Can your health benefit from having a pet?

In November, my husband and I celebrated our cat, Max’s, ninth birthday. Four years prior, we adopted him after we saw an ad for him on Craigslist.

In November, my husband and I celebrated our cat, Max’s, ninth birthday. Four years prior, we adopted him after we saw an ad for him on Craigslist.

Since that November day four years ago, we also acquired another cat. In July 2019 while out walking with a friend, I heard a kitten crying. She was stuck in a sewer catch basin. After calling the local police department, we were able to rescue the kitten.

I told my husband we would foster the kitten until we could get her to our vet to be adopted out. During that weekend, we found out that our vet didn’t have any openings … and my husband fell in love with the little ball of fluff. He convinced me that we needed to keep her. A year and a half later, and we can’t imagine our life without little Mila.

In the time that we’ve had our cats, I’ve noticed some things. I’ve noticed just how much work two cats are, but I’ve also noticed how much love you can have for a pet—and how much love they can have for you. I’ve also noticed since having two cats, I think I’ve been healthier.

I still get occasional migraines, but my stress-related issues—think regular stomachaches and extreme heartburn—have all but gone away. Can having a pet reduce stress?

I was curious if there was any correlation, so I decided to investigate it. From my research, I found that there can be some truth to this.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress and bring happiness to their owners.”

Health benefits of having a pet include:
• Decreased blood pressure
• Decreased cholesterol levels
• Decreased triglyceride levels
• Decreased feelings of loneliness
• Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
• Increased opportunities for socialization

Before running out to adopt a pet, make sure to choose the right pet for you. It’s important to take into consideration vet costs, food costs, how much and what kind of exercise the pet will need, how long the pet will live and how to clean up after the pet, among other things.

It’s also important to take into consideration the humans in your household. If you have any household members suffering from weakened immune systems, getting a pet could make things worse and put them at risk.

Another important thing to remember is cleanliness. Even though Fluffy is so sweet and cute, he also may be very dirty and germ-y. Make sure to wash hands properly after playing with pets, feeding them or cleaning up after them.

And above all else, you must make sure your pet is healthy. Proper health care for your fluffy friend is a non-negotiable.

To keep things friendly—and for you and your pet to get the most benefits—you need to learn how to respect each other. Training your pet when he or she is young goes a long way. You want the relationship to be beneficial for you and your little furry friend. Rewarding good behavior instills that it will continue—and your pet will associate you with treats.

If you’re looking to adopt, Stark County has plenty of organizations. Here are a few that have pets looking for “fur”ever homes:
• Stark County Sheriff’s Office Dog Warden Division: 330-451-2343 or visit starkcountyohio.gov/dog or petfinder.com
• Humane Society of Stark County: 330-453-5529 or visit starkhumane.org
• Paw Crazy Pet Rescue: pawcrazy.org
• Jade’s Rescue: 330-705-5049
• Second Chance for Animals: Facebook.com/SecondChanceOhio and Twitter.com/SecondChanceOh
• Peace for Pets: 330-484-9537

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass