Are Pet Owners More Likely To Survive COVID-19?


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Since the coronavirus first started spreading, people all over the world have been looking for answers: How can we treat this disease? Who is more prone to getting its worst symptoms? What can we do to prevent infection?

As a part of The Conversation’s Curious Kids segment, where kids can ask experts questions, one child asked, “Are people with pets less likely to die if they catch COVID-19?” 

Clarissa M. Uttley, a professor of educational leadership, learning and curriculum at Plymouth State University, said no research has been completed yet to confirm or deny this, but through her own studies, she’s seen that people with pets tend to be healthier and, “recover from illnesses faster than people without companion animals.” 

After all, scientists have seen that having a pet can make a positive impact on a person’s health. Studies have shown that kids living with dogs from an early age have a, “lower chance for developing autoimmune illnesses like asthma and allergies,” a New York Times article reported. The coronavirus causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, and its symptoms of infection include a fever, cough and shortness of breath. According to WedMD, since having asthma in particular can cause trouble breathing, COVID-19 symptoms in patients with asthma could be worse than in others without it. 

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute has explored the various ways in which pet ownership creates a positive effect on child health and development, healthy aging and mental health. The human-animal bond has proven to be a stress-reliever and decreases a person’s blood pressure or heart rate. According to this study, even watching a video of a cat or dog can have stress-relieving effects on a person. 

Owning a dog has also proven to encourage physical fitness, with owners taking their pets outside several times a day (and, in some cases, cats too!). Beyond just the obvious benefits, walking around the neighborhood during this time of isolation is a nice way to breathe in some fresh air and glance at some new faces around your neighborhood (from at least 6 ft. away). 

As good as pets may be for our feelings of stress, loneliness and even impact how kids develop allergies or asthma, people may still worry about the bacteria, germs or even zoonotic disease pets may bring into the home. At this time, the Centers for Disease Control says there’s been no evidence that pets can transmit the coronavirus to humans. 

Time will tell whether owning a pet could have some impact on the survival rate of individuals suffering from COVID-19. For now, we can rely on the human-animal bond we have with our comforting companions to get through this pandemic together.

 

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