The Health Benefits of Having a Pet

– Nearly 85 million US
families have at least one pet. Animals can provide unconditional love, but did you know they’re
also good for your health? This is what one of our very
own employees had to say about her furry friend. – My name is Michelle and I have an emotional
support dog named Gordon. I’ve had Gordon for three years and he goes with me
everywhere, including to work. (cameras clicking) My production job can be fast-paced and, well, at times, stressful. Gordon helps me manage
any anxiety I experience with his calm demeanor
and his happy personality. I don’t know what I would do without him. (audience applauds) – Michelle and Gordon both join us as well as our good friend and colleague, Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall of
Pfizer, here to help explain the health benefits of having a pet. So I have to say, Michelle,
Gordon is very, very cute, very well-behaved, but tell us why you need an emotional support animal. – Well when I was 21 I was diagnosed with a genetic heart condition
and when my heart rate accelerates it can cause palpitations and abnormal heartbeats, so
I do take medication for it, but Gordy is a great way to
naturally reduce my heart rate. – Studies have found that having a pet may be good for your heart. For example, owning a dog is associated with lower cholesterol
and triglyceride levels, and we know that that can reduce the risk of having a heart attack,
and of course what’s more is having a pet around
can help boost your mood, make you feel less lonely,
and help you with that stress. – I can acknowledge that. I was as first-year med
student and I adopted my dog, Nala, from a rescue shelter,
and she helped lower my stress throughout med school. And I ended up, instead
of studying in the library all day long, I would
sit outside with her. And so I look back at those times as some of the best because
I had my dog by my side. – What’s been found is that dog owners are more than twice as likely
to get about 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day when
compared to non dog owners. And having a dog gets you out and about, you’re meeting new people, and that can have a health
benefit because loneliness has been linked to poor health outcomes and even to earlier death. – And that’s one reason why therapy dogs are sometimes brought into
hospitals or nursing homes. They can certainly help
reduce patients’ loneliness as well as anxiety. Humans, look, we’re naturally
drawn to companionship and the power of touch
is such an important part of what we call the pet effect. It’s been shown that blood
pressure can even go down when people pets a dog. – Pets can make you happy and
that is good for your health, and it is clear that Gordon
brings you happiness. – He definitely does. He’s also made me very popular at work. Everyone is always coming
to my desk and hanging out with Gordon and they come up to us when we’re out and about,
and we do travel together and when I’m away from home,
he is just a constant source of comfort and makes me very calm. – And you know you are not alone. A survey showed that
74% of 2,000 pet owners that were surveyed reported
improvements in mental health. – And it’s not just for us adults. Pets may also be good
for the health of kids. One study found that dogs
can help children with ADHD increase their focus, and
having a pet in the home during the first year of life may prevent allergies later on. But of course the decision to get a pet should not be taken lightly. It was recently reported that some puppies may be carrying bacteria
that may be resistant to antibiotic treatment, so
you have to pay attention to those things as well. – That’s right, and not
every pet is for everybody. Households that have children
under the age of five should not have reptiles,
frogs, backyard poultry. Because the germs that they may spread can potentially be
harmful to young children. And for people who have
weakened immune systems, it’s also especially important, they should be extra
cautious in both choosing and handling pets. – And I’ll add one more and in there. If you think you may be pregnant,
avoid changing cat litter or adopting a new cat or handling strays, especially kittens. Why? Cats can carry a parasite
that can cause birth defects. – Yeah, and wash your
hands, wash your hands, wash your hands, because
that will help make sure that any germs that a pet may have, you can reduce the spread of that. There’s lots of information about pets and their relationship to your health, and so you can go to for that and while you’re
there you can sign up for a monthly newsletter. – And Michelle, I have to ask, because Gordon has been so good, can I give Gordon a little
somethin’ somethin’? – Yes, of course, he’d love it. Gordon, look, he has– – Gordon–
– Okay I’m gonna give him a hug, you give him a treat. – You see that? You’re so good, you’re so good. He’s so well-behaved. But Michelle, thanks for being here sharing your story.
– Thank you so much. (applauding)
– Gordon, thank you for coming, you did so well. And Dr. Freda, always a pleasure.

12 thoughts on “The Health Benefits of Having a Pet

  1. What about cats and birds? They provide just as much health benefits as dogs, my ragdoll cat has helped my clinical depression to the point that I’m not thinking about jumping off a bridge every minute of my life anymore, I rarely think about suicide, my birds have helped me feel less lonely, don’t just glorify dogs, all animals help, not just dogs

  2. My dog is the best! I can definitely see how she can be good for my health, just hugging my fluffy girl makes me happy

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