Many people have a pet, but may not realize the health benefits they receive when they own a dog, cat, or other animal.

Dr. Fabian Sandoval is the President and C.E.O. of Emerson Clinical Research Institute in Northwest, D.C. He said the human body can undergo some positive changes if they own a pet.

“A person can release more endorphins, cortisol levels can improve, and stress levels can decrease.  Owning a pet can help a person lower his or her blood pressure. If you own a dog, and take it for a walk, a person gets more exercise and that can help lower sugar levels and cholesterol,” Sandoval said.

Improving People’s Lives

There are other ways pets improve people’s lives.  Studies show dogs can help people with diabetes.  A trained dog can detect low blood sugar in a person. People who have a condition known as ketoacidosis experience a change in how their breath smells, and trained dogs can identify this “sweet breath.” Handlers also can train dogs to identify a seizure in a person who has epilepsy.

Physical and Mental Health Benefits

While people gain a lot of physical benefits, owning a pet can also provide a boost to a person’s mental health. Cris Bombaugh is President and CEO of the Montgomery County Humane Society. She said first and foremost, pets provide people with companionship.

“Pets are personable; they provide a lot of friendship and unconditional love. These are healthy relationships to have; it is healthy to care for another living creature. We see the appreciation from those animals. We receive that love back ten-fold.  I am not a doctor but I know studies have shown petting a cat can lower a person’s heart rate and that pets can have a calming effect on people,” Bombaugh said.

My MCM spoke with veterinarian Dr. Katie Malehorn.  She is the owner and lead veterinarian at Veterinary Park Potomac in Potomac, Maryland. She has been a practicing veterinarian for eight years, and has more than 15 years of experience in the field which includes working in animal shelters.  Malehorn explains why people and pets are a good fit:


Source:, Liz Feldman