The Pawsitive Health Benefits Associated with Pet Ownership


There’s a reason why dogs are known as “man’s best friend” and cats as our “feline companions.” Beyond the joy and companionship they bring, owning a pet offers numerous health benefits that can enhance our overall well-being. From reducing stress and boosting mental health to promoting physical fitness and providing a sense of purpose, the advantages of pet ownership are far-reaching.

  1. Stress Reduction

Life can be stressful, but the presence of a pet can help alleviate that stress. Interacting with pets has been shown to reduce the production of stress hormones like cortisol and increase the release of oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and relaxation. Whether it’s cuddling with a cat or playing fetch with a dog, these simple activities can have a calming effect on our nervous systems.

  1. Improved Mental Health

Pets are natural mood boosters. Studies have shown that pet owners experience reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. The unconditional love and companionship provided by pets can create a sense of purpose and connection, which can be especially beneficial for those dealing with loneliness or mental health issues.

  1. Enhanced Physical Fitness

Owning a pet, particularly an active one like a dog, encourages physical activity. Daily walks, playtime, and outdoor adventures are all part of pet ownership, which can help pet owners stay active and maintain a healthier lifestyle. Regular exercise not only benefits physical health but also contributes to mental well-being.

  1. Lower Blood Pressure and Heart Health

Numerous studies have linked pet ownership to lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease. The act of petting a cat or dog can have a calming effect, lowering heart rate and blood pressure. Additionally, the responsibility of caring for a pet often encourages healthier habits, such as maintaining a routine and reducing stress, both of which contribute to better heart health.

  1. Social Connection

Pet owners often find themselves forging new social connections through interactions with other pet owners. Whether it’s chatting with fellow dog owners at the park or bonding over shared pet experiences online, pets can serve as social catalysts. These connections can reduce feelings of isolation and enhance overall mental well-being.

  1. Allergy Prevention

Surprisingly, some studies suggest that children raised in households with pets may have a reduced risk of developing allergies and asthma. Exposure to pet dander and bacteria in early childhood may help train the immune system to be less reactive to allergens, ultimately leading to fewer allergies.

  1. Pain Management

Pet therapy is becoming increasingly popular in healthcare settings. Interaction with therapy animals, such as dogs or cats, has been shown to reduce pain and anxiety in patients recovering from surgeries or undergoing medical treatments. The soothing presence of a pet can provide a distraction from pain and discomfort.


The decision to bring a pet into your life is a significant one, but the health benefits associated with pet ownership make it a rewarding choice. The physical, emotional, and social advantages of having a pet cannot be overstated. From reducing stress and anxiety to improving heart health and promoting physical fitness, our furry friends have a profound impact on our well-being.

However, it’s important to remember that pet ownership comes with responsibilities. Proper care, attention, and consideration for your pet’s needs are essential to ensuring a mutually beneficial relationship. When approached with commitment and care, pet ownership can be a truly transformative and enriching experience that contributes positively to your health and happiness.

Pit Bulls Are Not Monsters

Jim Pennucci/Flickr

They have big hearts, clownish grins, and wildly wagging tails, but pit bulls do pose tough challenges to the humane community. In 2018, nearly half of U.S. pit bulls were homeless.

Many people wrongfully demonize pit bulls as an inherently dangerous breed. Others overlook challenges specific to the breed in their efforts to defend people’s rights to own them. These opposing views often lead to a vitriolic debate that winds up at City Hall. Continue reading “Pit Bulls Are Not Monsters”

Business-Savvy Landlords Allow Pets: Cities Should Make it the Default

Imagine being responsible for the life or death of 55,000 dogs and cats every year. As the General Manager for the City of Los Angeles Animal Services Department, the desperate need of these animals weighed on my mind every day.  I was determined to end pet homelessness and the practice of killing and disposing of our society’s surplus companion animals.

Today, most cities and towns across the nation share this noble and ambitious goal. Achieving this requires robust community participation, and our cities desperately need the support of an overlooked constituencylandlords. Continue reading “Business-Savvy Landlords Allow Pets: Cities Should Make it the Default”

FIV-positive cats can live long, healthy lives by Ed Boks

Ed’s 15 year old FIV cat, Oliver

In the quest to achieve No-Kill (which I define as applying the same criteria a loving pet guardian or conscientious veterinarian would apply to deciding a shelter animal’s fate), we must learn to overcome the many widespread myths regarding shelter animals.

The fact is some shelter animals have issues. Equally true is the fact that these issues are seldom the animal’s fault and they can almost always be resolved. Knowingly adopting an animal with special needs is one of the noblest acts you will ever perform; you are truly saving a life. Continue reading “FIV-positive cats can live long, healthy lives by Ed Boks”

Is your pet suffering? by Ed Boks

Is your pet lonely?

The New York Times recently ran a piece by Jessica Pierce asking the provocative question “Is your pet lonely and bored?” Today there are as many pets in the United States as there are people; and in most homes pets are family — and not just dogs and cats, but rabbits, rats, bearded dragons and snakes.

According to many veterinarians and psychologists this phenomenon is evidence of a deepening “human-animal bond.” Scientists studying animal cognition and emotion are continually peeling back the mysteries of animal minds, revealing an incredible and often surprising richness in the thoughts and feelings of other creatures. Continue reading “Is your pet suffering? by Ed Boks”

The Best and Worst Cities for Pets by Ed Boks

Heading to Scottsdale, AZ – America’s Most Pet Friendly City

Nearly 85 million households in the U.S. that own pets want to live where their beloved companions can enjoy long, healthy lives without breaking the bank.  The American Pet Products Association projects that in 2018, pet ownership will cost Americans over $72 billion.

Years ago, pet owners had access to only a handful of businesses offering animal services and supplies.  Petco and PetSmart were among the biggest names.  But the market for pet businesses is growing to fill increasing consumer demand. For example, in 2017, the pet food industry grew three times as fast as the packaged food industry. And there are new ways to buy goods for your animal, such as monthly subscription boxes. Continue reading “The Best and Worst Cities for Pets by Ed Boks”

Dogs owned by homeless people are generally healthy with few behavior problems by Ed Boks

Heather with her dog Poppy in downtown Seattle, Washington. Photograph: Annabel Clark for the Guardian

I recently came across a  study published by Pet Behavior Science in 2016 that found:

  • Dogs owned by homeless people are generally healthy with few behavior problems.
  • Even though lower body condition scores were found, only one dog was found to be underweight.
  • Behavior is not generally an issue in homeless peoples’ dogs

Continue reading “Dogs owned by homeless people are generally healthy with few behavior problems by Ed Boks”

Why do cats purr? by Ed Boks

Why do cats purr?

There are many questions our children and grandchildren ask concerning the mysteries of our universe.  Such as, why is the sky blue?  Why do birds sing? And why do cats purr?

While we may often fail to provide satisfying answers to these difficult questions, we instinctively know that so long as the sky is blue, and birds sing, and cats purr – all is right with the world.

One of the things we love most about our cats is the feeling of contentment we share when they climb onto our lap and begin to purr.  When cats purr we feel calmer and more peaceful – even if we don’t hear the purring, we can feel the soft reassuring vibration.

So, just why do cats purr?  And how do they generate that entrancing sound? Continue reading “Why do cats purr? by Ed Boks”

Did you save a life today? by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and Tuscany
Tuscany, transitioned from a foster (recovering from being hit by a car) to a hospice foster (after she was diagnosed with cancer) to being adopted by a loving family.

How often do you get to say, “I saved a life today?” When you volunteer with the your local animal shelter that assertion can be a daily affirmation. That is especially true when you volunteer as a foster caregiver.  Every animal fostered back to health or to an adoptable status is a life saved. The ability of a local animal shelter to care for all the animals rescued depends on reliable foster volunteers willing and able to help. The more foster volunteers, the more lives saved.

Foster volunteers are typically caring people who do everything from bottle-feeding orphaned neonate babies around the clock to socializing little ones to ensure they are able to interact with both humans and animals to caring for an older animal recovery from an injury or surgery.  Foster volunteers provide care, safety and love. Continue reading “Did you save a life today? by Ed Boks”

Thwarting the attack of the pre-alarm cat by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and cat
Contrary to popular belief, cats are not nocturnal. They are “crepuscular,” which means they are most active at dawn and dusk.

I’ve always been a dog person, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned that cats have idiosyncrasies no self-respecting dog would ever engage in. For instance, why do cats insist on waking you up before the alarm goes off?

Contrary to popular belief, cats are not nocturnal. “Nocturnal” refers to animals that are awake at night and sleep during the day. However, cats sleep at night, as we do – just not as long. Cats are “crepuscular,” which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. This is because their ancestors’ natural prey was most active at these times. Although cats have good night vision, they can’t see without light, so they do sleep at night.

Two dynamics conspire to create the relentless “pre-alarm” cat.   Continue reading “Thwarting the attack of the pre-alarm cat by Ed Boks”