Pets and health: True or false?
You know that your beloved pets improve your quality of life. But did you know they may also improve your health? Test your knowledge with this quick quiz.
True or false: People who own pets tend to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
True. Studies have found that pet owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than people who don't have pets. The American Heart Association has even linked pet ownership to a lower risk of heart disease. Pet owners also tend to feel less loneliness, stress, depression and anxiety.
True or false: The health benefits of pet ownership mainly apply to older adults who don't leave home often.
False. Pets can help people get and stay healthier at any age. Household pets may even lower a child's risk of developing asthma or allergies. They can also help children with autism build social skills. Just the act of petting or cuddling an animal can reduce stress, regardless of age.
True or false: Owning a pet can help you if you've had a heart attack.
True. Studies have found that pet owners who have a heart attack have higher survival rates than people who don't have pets. Pet owners over 65 also make fewer trips to the doctor than their peers who don't own pets.
True or false: Simply owning a dog will help you lose weight.
False. Dog ownership alone does not guarantee weight loss—it's the act of walking and playing with a dog that helps. Walking your dog regularly can help you lose weight and improve your health.
True or false: Cat ownership provides all of the same health benefits as dog ownership.
False. As you're probably aware, cats do not usually enjoy pursuing outdoor activities with their owners. Therefore, cat owners do not receive the same health benefits that dog owners might. But just like dogs, cats and other small pets can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure in their humans.
Find useful info about how furry friends can affect your health in the Pets topic center of our health information library.
- American Academy of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology. "Prevention of Allergies and Asthma in Children." https://www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/conditions-library/allergies/prevention-of-allergies-and-asthma-in-children.
- American College of Sports Medicine. "Dogs: Can They Help Promote Human Health?" http://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Citation/2014/01000/Dogs__Can_They_Help_Promote_Human_Health_.4.aspx.
- American Heart Association. "5 Ways Pets Help with Stress and Mental Health." https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-bond-for-life-pets/pets-as-coworkers/pets-and-mental-health.
- American Heart Association. "16 Science-Backed Reasons Adopting a Dog Could Be Good for Your Heart." https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-bond-for-life-pets/pet-owners/a-dog-could-be-good-for-your-heart.
- American Heart Association. "Can Your Pet Help You Be Healthier?" https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/can-your-pet-help-you-be-healthier.
- American Heart Association. "Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk." https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0b013e31829201e1.
- American Heart Association. "Take Your Dog to Work Day Highlights Health Benefits of Our Furry Friends." https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/07/12/take-your-dog-to-work-day-highlights-health-benefits-of-our-furry-friends.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "How to Stay Healthy Around Pets and Other Animals." https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/keeping-pets-and-people-healthy/how.html.
- Harvard Health Publishing. "Having a Dog Can Help Your Heart—Literally." https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/having-a-dog-can-help-your-heart--literally.
- HelpGuide.org. "The Health and Mood-Boosting Benefits of Pets." https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/mood-boosting-power-of-dogs.htm.