Interacting with pets every day may just keep the doctor away and could bring ‘pawsitive’ health benefits to pet owners.

Having a dog, cat or any other pet makes people stick to a routine, said Kenny Spokes, overnight emergency veterinary technician at the Veterinary Referral and Emergency Hospital of Arlington. Owning a pet builds behavioral routines and habits people may have never had before, and that can be beneficial to their health, he said.

Physical health

It somewhat forces pet owners to get up and do things for that animal, Spokes said. Whether it’s feeding them or taking care of them. It helps build a routine.

“Our pet’s lives depend entirely on us on feeding them, caring for them and giving them veterinary care when necessary,” Spokes said.

Marketing junior Pedro Ramirez owns two dogs, a 7-year-old Chihuahua-Dachshund mix named Lily and a 1-year-old Alaskan-Husky named Maggie, he said.

“Ever since we got Maggie, she’s more active because she’s a big dog, and so we take her on walks and actually make an effort to play with her,” Ramirez said. “Maggie is more of the physical part of having a dog.”

Emotional health

The important part of owning dogs is the emotional part because dogs help keep their owners stable, Ramirez said.

One of the reasons people should own a pet is because sometimes people need to feel an emotional connection, and they may not get that in their social life with other people, Spokes said.

While some may not have many family members near them, their pets become a member of the family, Spokes said.

Physical interaction with a pet such as petting them can help people have less anxiety and in some cases lower blood pressure, he said.

For public relations senior Alexandria Kerr, having her two cats, Felix, a 4-year-old Maine Coon, and Chloe, a 17-year-old Tabby cat, help relieve some of her anxiety, she said.

Even though animals can’t talk, having another living being around, interacting with them and trying to understand them can help improve people’s emotional intelligence or their social well-being, Spokes said.

Being able to go home and relax with her dog makes Kerr happy, she said. 

“I think animals are underappreciated in the sense of like how much they help people,” Kerr said. “You don’t know how much they help you until they’re gone.”

It’s a big boost to morale and emotional well-being being able to end one’s long day with a pet at home, Spokes said.

“There’s a reason a dog is called a man’s best friend, because they keep you company, they’re there for you and they’re fun,” Ramirez said.


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