Pets lead to good health, study shows

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SALT LAKE CITY -- If you own a pet then you are probably in better health than someone who doesn't own a pet. That's according to a new study out of George Mason University.

Skip Daynes, of Salt Lake City, agrees with the study.  He had both his hips replaced in 2015. He said without his dogs, especially Reggie, he'd probably still be stuck in bed, relying on medical assistance.

“I would not progress nearly as fast without him,” Daynes said. “Cause he has to go for a walk, he has to have somebody feed him his food, those are commitments you have to do where you have to move.”

According to the study, there are approximately 132 million pet owners in America. They go to the doctor .6 percent less than non-pet owners. With the average doctor’s visit calculated at $139 that equals to almost $11.4 billion in annual savings.

“Well this study is really exciting news. It’s the first time somebody has done one of actual health dollar savings,” said Kathy Klotz, Executive Director of Intermountain Therapy Animals.

Klotz said she hopes this new information entices even more people, especially seniors, to start owning pets.

Currently, 65 percent of American households have one or more pets. In 44 percent of those households at least one of those pets is a dog.

“We really believe it will get insurance reimbursement for making people stay in the hospital less long, recover more quickly,” Klotz said.

The study credits pets for reducing a number of health risks, including cholesterol, blood pressure, stress, obesity and psychological issues.

“It’s kind of a holistic affect that animals have on people that affects everything; physical, mental emotional,” Klotz said.

Daynes said the message is pretty simple, when you take care of your pet; you also take care of yourself. He believes pets feel the same way about their owners.

“It was extremely important for me to have somebody support me and love me constantly,” Daynes said.

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