Stay healthy–own a pet

Here in the United States, one out of every two households includes a companion animal. As a pet owner, you know there’s nothing like the feeling you get from being with your pet. But not only can she bring a smile to your face, recent studies show that your pet can positively affect your physical and mental health.

We know that too much stress can make us sick by weakening our immune systems and exacerbating existing health problems. But pets can function as buffers against much of the daily stress we face. A study conducted at the University of California at Los Angeles determined that stress impacts people who do not have pets to a greater extent than people with pets.

The results of a 1984 study found that simply by petting an animal, you can reduce the many behavioral, psychological and cardiovascular indicators of stress, including blood pressure. And of course there‚Äôs the added health benefit of exercise in the daily walks with your dog. Pet ownership has also been shown to reduce anxiety and hyperactivity. In fact, one 1984 study found that watching fish swimming in an aquarium worked just as well as hypnosis in reducing anxiety in patients awaiting surgery! Pets appear to help after surgery, too–pet owners exhibit faster recuperation time when recovering from operations. And did you know that, as a pet owner, you have a reduced risk of heart attack? One 1992 study by the Baker Medical Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, found that pet owners had significantly lower blood pressure levels than non-pet owners.

Everybody knows that walking your dog is a great way to meet people. When accompanied by a dog, others see you as socially approachable and are more likely to start a conversation with you. Owning a pet also opens up the lines of communication and shared experiences. What pet owner doesn’t like chatting about his animal companions or latest escapades?

How do we feel about our furry friends? According to a study conducted in 1995 by The American Animal Hospital Association, pet owners consider their animal companions to be part of the family. If you haven’t yet added a pet to yours, remember–there’s no better way to stay happy and healthy