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A pet is more than just a great friend and loyal companion – it can benefit your health. Aside from the joy a pet can bring to your life, a pet can also help ease depression, calm anxiety, reduce your risk for heart disease, encourage physical activity and fulfill the basic human need to touch.


Pets and Kids

Kids who grow up in homes with furry pets have about 30 percent fewer problems due to allergies and asthma. And a pet is also a great way to teach children compassion and responsibility. The relationship they share with their pet helps them to build stronger relationships with people.


Pets and Mental Health

Pets can also reduce anxiety and depression. When you pet, touch or hug your pet you elevate your serotonin and dopamine levels, which make you calm and relaxed. Pets can also combat loneliness, which plays a role in morbidity and mortality.


Pets and Physical Activity

Some pets can also encourage you to be more physically active. The American Heart Association has linked owning pets, specifically dogs, with reduced risk for heart disease. This may be due to the fact that some dog owners take daily walks with their pet which makes them more likely to achieve the recommended amount of physical activity.

The research into pets and their effect on human health is a new area of research. But some studies are showing interesting relationships between health and pet ownership. The primary reason to welcome a pet into your home should be to provide care for it, and to enjoy its company and love.  The health benefits are just an extra treat.


Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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