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Pets can make us healthier

Welcoming a furry friend into your life can be good for your health – our animal friends often give us unconditional love and a sense of purpose. Owning one can also be a lot of fun.

A dog and cat laying on a bed with their owner.

The health benefits of living with a pet

According to Forbes Advisor, pet ownership in the U.S. has been increasing for decades. In 2023, 66% of Americans lived in a home with a pet, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say this is a healthy trend. Pets can:

  • Increase opportunities to spend time outside and exercise.
  • Decrease blood pressure and stress.
  • Decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Help us manage feelings of loneliness, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Improve cognitive function in older adults.
  • Lower anxiety for people with dementia and Alzheimer's – and their caregivers.

Studies have shown that compared to people who do not share their lives with an animal, pet owners:

  • Are less likely to be depressed than people who do not own pets.
  • Have lower blood pressure – even in stressful situations.
  • Have higher levels of serotonin and dopamine, which trigger a more calm and relaxed mood.
  • Have fewer indicators of heart disease.
  • Survive longer after a heart attack.
  • Have significantly fewer doctor's visits.

Best of all, just about any pet offers health benefits. Snuggling with a dog, cat, or rabbit can boost your mental health. Birds encourage social interaction and help keep the mind sharp. Even watching fish, reptiles and amphibians can reduce muscle tension and lower your heart rate.

Things to consider when choosing a pet

Choosing the right pet is very important because a pet that is not a good fit for your family can actually make you sicker. Consider the following:

  • What is the lifespan of this pet? Can I commit to caring for this animal its entire life?
  • What kind of food does this pet require?
  • How much exercise does this pet require?
  • How big will it grow?
  • Do I have the time to clean up and care for this pet?
  • Can I afford the cost of veterinary care?
  • Are pets allowed in my house, apartment or condominium?

Pets can be a lot of work. Allstate Benefits can help.

Caring for any living thing is a big responsibility. Most people can use some help with the tasks that come with pet ownership from time to time. When you choose a self-funded plan design or a Secure Choice fully insured health plan through Allstate Benefits, your employees get 10 hours per year of flexible family and pet care at no charge.

Papa Caregivers offers flexible care from highly trained and vetted Papa Pals, anytime and anywhere. This includes pet care – including dog walking, play time, scooping animal poop and emptying litter boxes, and feeding pets. Papa Pals are especially helpful to pet owners when someone is recovering from an injury or surgery.

Papa Pals also provide:

  • Backup care for children and assistance with homework, snacks, meals and playtime.
  • Help with errands, light housework, meal prep and laundry.
  • Companionship, transportation and more for aging and ill loved ones.

April 30 is National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day. If you've decided to share your life with a new pet, this may be a meaningful time of year to do it.

Contact a sales representative to learn more about how Allstate Benefits can help your company and your employees.

The Self-Funded Program through Allstate Benefits provides tools for employers owning small to mid-sized businesses to establish a self-funded health benefit plan for their employees. The benefit plan is established by the employer and is not an insurance product. Allstate Benefits is a marketing name for: Integon National Insurance Company in CT, NY and VT; Integon Indemnity Corporation in FL; and National Health Insurance Company in CO, WA and all other states where offered. For employers in the Allstate Benefits Self-Funded Program, stop loss insurance is underwritten by these insurance companies in the noted states.
Allstate Benefits is a marketing name for: Integon National Insurance Company in TX and IN; and National Health Insurance Company in MO and FL. Group health insurance plans offered by Allstate Benefits are offered by Integon National Insurance Company in TX and IN; and National Health Insurance Company in MO and FL.

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