A case for close quarters with our pets

While there are some disease risks that rise when we share our home and germs with our pets, with proper hygiene and just as important thorough preventative care for your pets, sharing your home with pets and relishing in as many furry snuggles as possible does have its wealth of benefits, including psychological support, friendship, and even promoting good health. Here are a few of my favorites.

Elderly and petsPets are a natural mood elevator! In fact, playing with a dog can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine.
Infants are less likely to develop allergies if they share their home with a family dog. They also are less likely to develop eczema.

Having pets tends to lead to better heath for the elderly, particularly less anxious outbursts for those with Alzheimer’s. At least one insurance company (Midland Life Insurance Company) even asks elderly applicants if they have a pet as part of their screening.

Sharing your life with a dog or cat has cardiovascular benefits as well. It appears to lower blood pressure and heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without pets.

While extra cautions should be taken with the young, elderly, or immune-compromised, the studies shows there is a low risk of zoonotic disease transmission from sharing your home with a healthy pet. Any area licked by a pet, especially for those at increased health risk or an open wound, should be immediately washed with soap and water. Pets should be kept free of all ectoparasites, routinely dewormed for protection against internal parasites, maintained on heartworm prevention medication year round, and regularly examined by a veterinarian. Use common sense and wash your hands after handling feces or even gardening. Keeping your fur kids healthy is crucial to keeping your human family healthy.

Pleasant Plains Animal Hospital contributed to this article. They are a Staten Island Veterinary Hospital.

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