Pet perks: 4 ways your pet supports your immune system

A beautiful dog looks out from an open car door with a man petting him from behind.

Pets can be hard work. If you’ve ever had one, you know.

From stepping on squeaky toys in the middle of the night to early morning wet nose nudges waking you up, the challenges are many.

But those challenges are far outweighed by the physical, mental and social benefits of having a furry (or feathered or scaly or hard-shelled) friend by your side. That includes support for your immune system, which we all can benefit from.

Here are four ways in which Fido, Whiskers, Nemo or Polly can help you support your and your family’s immune system.

A young child sits on a hardwood floor petting dog.

1. Pets help kids build a healthy immune system

No matter how clean you keep your home, pets still contribute more and different dirt and bacteria than if the home was pet-free. Research shows that biodiversity helps children build a healthy immune system.

That goes along with the “dirt is good” theory: Within reason, the germs kids pick up in their natural environment will actually stimulate their immune system, making their bodies healthier.

When it comes to pets, some of those immune-supporting perks of biodiversity begin even before children are born. A study showed babies born into families with pets also experience benefits to their immune system. The key exposure time starts before birth and goes to 3 months of age.

A woman sits on the floor snuggling with a cat on her lap. An Atmosphere Sky air purifier is seen in the background.

2. Pets can lower stress levels

When we’re stressed, our bodies release a hormone that can suppress the immune system. Spending quality time with our pets, however, lowers that stress hormone.

Research shows people who were petting a dog registered a drop in blood pressure. And 87 percent of cat owners reported that their kitties had a positive impact on their wellbeing, while 76 percent reported being better able to cope with daily life because of their cat.

And spending time enjoying the slow pace of your fish in an aquarium or interacting with your pet birds is similar to connecting with nature, another proven reducer of occasional stress.

A dog reaches up to watch his owner make a healthy snack on the kitchen counter.

3. Pets provide social support

Recent research shows that people who are socially isolated are at an increased risk for several health problems. It’s difficult to maintain some in-person relationships, but having a pet around can do wonders to avoid loneliness. If you can’t have a pet of your own, maybe you can arrange a visit from a friend’s pet or a therapy animal. That’s their job after all.

Friends walking dog on a trail with a city skyline in the background.

4. Pets inspire you to exercise

Whether you’re taking your dog for a walk, throwing toys for your cat or chasing after an escaped pet bird, pets can keep you moving. All the better because not only is exercise part of a healthy lifestyle, research shows that regular exercise is good for a well-functioning immune system.

A bottle of Nutrilite Immunity Defense Zinc + Holy Basil is shown with sliced oranges and basil in a jar of water on a white counter.

Try some extra support

There are other measures you can take to help your immune system in addition to spending time with your pet. Consider adding an immunity-supporting supplement like vitamin C, D or echinacea.

There is also Nutrilite™ Immunity Defense Zinc + Holy Basil. Zinc is an essential nutrient for the maintenance of your immune system†. Holy basil, which has its roots in Traditional Ayurvedic Medicine, supports respiratory health and promotes healthy immune function†.

At the very least, start with a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet, regular exercise, plenty of sleep, no smoking and of a lot of handwashing. For more tips on how to support immune system, check out additional blogs at Amway Connections.


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†This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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