Pet ownership is at all all-time high; over 72 million households are homes to animals. My good friend and veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker told me this during a recent appearance on the show to discuss the importance of dental care for your pets. As we caught up backstage, he also mentioned that pet owners are expected to spend $50 billion on their pets this year. To give you some perspective, this number trumps the amount spent on jewelry, candy and hardware combined. It seems the pet industry is recession-proof.
Anyone who owns a pet, myself included, will not be terribly surprised at these statistics. Dr. Becker and I have similar households when it comes to animals. He own horses, dogs and cats, while my house is home to our cats, rabbit, fish and my black lab, Rosie.
Between food, vaccinations and squeaky toys, those dollars add up. Yet what many people don’t realize is that they also benefit from caring for their animal. Owning a pet can have positive effects on your cholesterol and help fight depression. Petting your animal has been clinically proven to reduce blood pressure and increase serotonin, a hormone that helps to elevate your mood.
Plus, there is the obvious, indisputable fact that people with pets get more exercise. Even after my long days of taping, when I come home to find Rosie staring dreamily out the window, I know that it’s time for a walk. Rosie never skips her exercise routine or loses her enthusiasm for trotting around our neighborhood. Every time she hears the word “walk,” her tail starts to windmill – now, if only humans were equally excited about getting their 10,000 steps. Try to channel this enthusiasm the next time you're feeling lethargic. Keep in mind that the lazy "dog days" are named so after the Roman "dog star" Sirius, not after our furry friends.
This past week, Dr. Becker forwarded me an article, an inspiring story about survival following the deadly tornadoes that crashed through Alabama. Nearly 3 weeks later, a dog with two broken legs crawled his way back to his front porch. This type of bond is worth more than money. If you don’t have a pet, I’d encourage you to consider adding a member to your family. You’ll be starting a mutually beneficial relationship that is as rewarding as it is fun.
Here’s a picture of me and Rosie: