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    The Perfect Team: Keeping Your Pet Healthy Keeps You Healthy, Too

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    Many pet owners say that getting their pet was one of the best things that has ever happened to them. While they usually are referring to the joy they feel from adding a lovable cat or dog to the family, they may truly be right about it being the best thing for them.

    As a pet owner, you obviously want to keep your pet happy and healthy for the duration of its life. But you may not have realized that actively working to keep your furry friend in good health can actually improve your health, too.

    The wellness of your pet and of your own body and mind are closely linked—so much so that it’s been the topic of many studies. The term “zooeyia�? refers to the effects pets have on human health, and experts in the field have closely examined the benefits having a pet can offer.

    Ways in which your pet’s health and your health are linked

    Keeping your pet healthy involves more than just feeding it well and taking it for walks. Here are ways your health can benefit when you take care of your pet’s health.

    1. Get fit and stay fit: For many people, getting up and moving can be difficult, but pets—especially ones that are high-maintenance like certain breeds of dogs—tend to make excellent motivators when it comes to physical activity. At the very least, dogs need to be taken outside to urinate multiple times a day and should be taken on walks regularly. This means that you are also getting up and active with your pup.

      Most pet owners want to see their dog maintain a healthy physical state, so they are more willing to take them on walks, go to the dog park and play games within the home. All this extra physical activity helps your pet stay fit and helps you stay healthy, too.

      Physical fitness helps you lose weight, tone muscles and reduces the risk of diseases. There has also been extensive research on how having a pet may help reduce your risk for heart disease and maintain lower blood pressure. Exercise is also great for stress relief, releasing “happy hormones�? called endorphins that help you feel better mentally.

    1. Improved mental health: Pets are often considered our number one companions. We might even treat them like children in some situations. Both cats and dogs require consistent love and attention to help them feel safe and cared for in the home. Attention is particularly important for pets with anxiety. A neglected animal will usually get stressed and develop anxiety or other health and behavioral problems.

      In a similar way, pets can offer stress-reduction and love back to their human owners. Having a pet around to take care of can help ease feelings of loneliness and isolation, calm feelings of depression and anxiety and much more. Happiness and companionship are crucial parts of human health, and you often get out what you put in with loving animals.

    1. More socialization: Socialization is an important part of caring for pets. Both dogs and cats require socialization and mental stimulation with humans and other animals, which is why pet owners try so hard to have multiple animals, let pets interact while on walks or take them to dog parks and on play dates.

      Of course, when your pet socializes, so do you. Pet owners often find they are more easily able to make connections with other people because of their mutual experience as a pet owner. These personal connections can help make lasting friendships, build support systems and decrease feelings of loneliness.

    1. Cut back on bad habits: Finally, owning a pet means that you need to be extra cautious about bad habits you might partake in that could affect its health. Smoking is one example of a habit that can be disastrous for your pet’s health. Second-hand smoke is bad for pets and can get into their bodies though the air, as well as when they lick surfaces or clothing that have absorbed toxins from cigarettes. These toxins have been shown to cause various kinds of cancer in dogs and cats—including lung and nasal cancer and lymphoma.

      Many pet owners feel pressure to quit or avoid smoking in order to keep their pets safe from these harmful effects. This, in turn, helps keep the owner safe, too. Having a reason outside of yourself to quit smoking or engaging in another bad habit can help keep you and your pet healthier for longer.

    Take an active role in your pet’s—and your own—health

    Keeping your pet healthy is a necessary part of pet ownership. No owner wants to see their pet in physical, mental or emotional distress. Remember to feed your pet a nutritious diet, make physical and metal exercise a priority and visit the vet regularly for wellness checks. Additionally, showering your pet with love and implementing a grooming routine will help it feel its best.

    In turn, all this attention to your pet’s health will come back to you with benefits for your own health. Pet ownership has never been more rewarding!

    Meet Our Expert

    Dr. Janice Huntingford

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