The Health Benefits of Pets

Talk to any pet owner, and they’ll tell you about the joy and unconditional love their animals provide. But in addition to being great companions, research suggests that pets also offer significant health and social benefits.
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It’s fun to meet people who share your love of animals — and while you’re trading stories and photos, you’re making new friends.

Good for your heart

Roughly two-thirds of U.S. households include pets, and the number continues to grow. According to several National Institutes of Health (NIH) and university-funded studies, pet ownership can boost immunity and reduce stress and anxiety, and:

  • Improve recovery from illness. Heart attack victims who owned dogs were much more likely to survive one year after the attack.
  • Control blood pressure. A group of hypertensive New York stockbrokers who were given dogs and cats had lower blood pressure and heart rates after six months than the control group receiving ACE inhibitors!
  • Increase activity. Dog owners walk an average of 130 minutes more per week than others; regular dog-walkers are also less likely to be obese.
  • Boost vitality. Of 2500 elderly adults ages 71 to 82, dog owners who regularly walked their dogs had better mobility over a three–year period — and could walk faster — than those who did not.

Social benefits

Caring for a pet can provide meaning and structure to your day. And it can help you handle major life changes as well as the physical challenges of aging. Pets can play an important role in reducing stress and anxiety by:

  • Providing companionship. Social isolation can lead to loneliness and depression. Cuddling up to a furry friend can have a major calming effect. A pet provides instant comfort and a supportive ear – with no judgment!


  • Elevating mood. CDC data suggests that anxiety increases with physical inactivity. Walking the dog, riding a horse or playing with a kitten can be a major stress–buster.
  • Helping you stay connected. Whether you’re at work, in class or out with a group, you can always find a fellow pet–lover. It’s fun to meet people who share your love of animals — and while you’re trading stories and photos, you’re making new friends.

Consider the costs

Is pet ownership for you? Pet lovers often report that the cost is minimal when compared to the many benefits pets provide. But before you run down to your local shelter, make sure you can afford to take good care of your new companion. Typical expenses may include:

  • Veterinary care – vaccinations and unexpected health expenses due to illness or accidents
  • Basic needs – food, leash or litter box and litter, pet carrier, small animal habitat or fish tank for specialty pets
  • Toys and furniture
  • Care while you’re away – pet–sitting or kennel costs

At first glance, these items can seem expensive. However, you can often find discounts in the form of store–brand food or pet insurance to lower vet bills. Giant Eagle® carries a wide selection of pet food and products — from dishes and toys to kibble and litter — at great values both you and your pet can appreciate!

Important Physician Advice Disclaimer: The content provided by Giant Eagle®, including but not limited to, website, recipe and health information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your physician for professional guidance before changing or undertaking a new diet program. Advance consultation with your physician is particularly important if you are under the age of 18, pregnant, nursing or have health problems.