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About Pets & People

couple sitting in front of lake with two dogs

Most households in the United States have at least one pet. Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners. Some of the 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

Although pets come with many benefits, there’s something else you should know: pets sometimes carry harmful germs that can make people sick. The diseases people get from animals are called zoonotic (zoe-oh-NOT-ic) diseases.

It is hard to know which animals could be carrying zoonotic diseases, especially since animals carrying these germs can often look healthy and normal. Here are some tips that can help you and your pets stay healthy:

  • Take your pet to its veterinarian regularly so it stays in good health.
  • Practice good hygiene around your pets so they don’t pass germs to you.
  • Learn about diseases different types of animals can spread – just in case.


  • Animal Tales: Read stories and articles about the bond between people and animals and how to prevent diseases and injuries related to pets and animals.
  • Power of the Pet: Pets Enrich Our Lives: CDC’s Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh discusses how to pick the right pet for your family