Can Your Pets Put Your Health in Danger?

a tiny pug wrapped with a blanket

Pet ownership has risen over the years, with a 20% increase since 1988. Two out of three American households include a pet, and these pets are almost always considered family, and rightly so.

Pets provide joy, health benefits, and, most importantly, companionship. However, some people tend to focus on the benefits of owning a pet without considering that pets can sometimes be a potential cause for danger to you, your family, and your health. If you’re planning to adopt a pet, consider the following benefits and risks before deciding.

Active Lifestyle

Dog owners need to walk their pets every day to keep them happy and healthy. Walks get dogs excited and can prompt them to run around, pulling you along with them. A study made by Michigan University in 2011 states that dog owners walk about an hour longer per week and are more likely to reach their fitness goals than non-dog owners. Just by dog-walking, you can get a full-body workout with a motivational yet merciless trainer by your side.

Even if you own a pet that doesn’t need walking, you’re still going to do a lot of moving around to keep them happy, and this can add a structure to your everyday life. You’ll need to refill their food and water bowls, give them baths, clean their messes, etc. Life won’t be boring with a pet around.

Stress Relief

We live in a world where things are constantly happening. At times, it feels like there’s no time for a break. Stress can accumulate and lead to health problems like anxiety and depression, and if you live alone, it can take a toll on you. Fortunately, pets can relieve us from these negative feelings by just being there. Petting, playing, or even watching your pets can increase your serotonin and dopamine levels, which we associate with feeling calm and relaxed.

Bonding with your pets can trigger your maternal instincts and feel the same things that a mother feels for her child. Pets have a calming effect on their owners, as people who have pets tend to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels than those who don’t.

Social Support

With many pet owners across the country, you won’t have a problem making new friends. Having a pet is the best way to meet people quickly. You won’t have to worry about a discussion topic either, as you’re likely to come across people who want to talk to you about your dog. You might be surprised by the number of people you’ll meet thanks to your pet.

shih tzu puppy being held like a baby

Teaches Practical and Emotional Skills

It’s no secret nor surprise that kids love pets. Pets can be a good addition to the household to help teach kids responsibility from a young age. Pets require food, water, love, and exercise. Letting your child be responsible for a pet or having them help you can teach them practical skills. Having a pet can also teach them emotional skills such as patience, compassion, and empathy.

Risks

Taking care of pets isn’t easy, and it comes with a few risks that can potentially endanger you or your household. While most are avoidable, it’s still important to be aware of these risks.

Zoonoses

These are infectious diseases that you can get from coming into close contact with infected animals. They’re caused by harmful germs that can cause many kinds of illnesses in both people and animals, which, in some cases, can lead to death. These germs can spread in various ways: direct contact, indirect contact, bites from ticks or fleas, food, and water. Even if animals don’t look like they’re sick, they can still carry germs that can infect others.

It’s important to note that those who are more susceptible to catching this disease are the following:

  • Children below 5 years old
  • Adults 65 and up
  • People who have weakened immune systems (immunocompromised)
  • Pregnant women

To keep yourself and your pets healthy, it’s important to follow proper preventive measures like keeping yourself and your pets clean.

Injuries

Some pets can be very playful and get too excited. This can cause health risks for children and adults, like bites, scratches, sprains, fractures, or even broken bones from getting knocked over by their pet. This is highly likely with bigger dogs. However, with a bit of time, effort, and proper dog training, this problem can be solved quickly.

Salmonella

This can spread from your pet to you by contacting infected pets or their feces and putting your hand in your mouth. You can also get infected by eating food contaminated by bacteria. Contact your GP if you or your child develop any of the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pains
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches

The Bottom Line

Before getting a pet, it’s best to consider the benefits and risks. You also have to consider your capacity to care for an animal in your home. Many responsibilities come with becoming a pet owner, and you should only become one if you have the physical, mental, and emotional capacity to do so.

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