There are few things better than coming home to a dog that is completely ecstatic to see you, or to a cat that welcomes you with a quiet but insistent brush against your legs.

Pets are great friends, and after a difficult day, pet owners quite literally feel the love. Thing is, this lifelong companion - slobbery kisses included - will love and accept you every day, whether you’re at you’re best or feeling at your absolute worst. Anyone who has ever seen a child meet a pet understands the joy that comes with interacting and caring for an animal.

As if you need another reason to love your furry friend, your pet, according to research, could provide you with a plethora of health-boosting benefits.

The emotional benefits are profound. Did you know that simply petting a dog or a cat can help to reduce stress? They give us something to focus on beyond ourselves, keeping us present when we might otherwise be distracted by every day difficulties. Their love can help us get through tough times such as divorce or death. Studies actually show that pets will help to reduce fear and anxiety better than support from a human companion! Amazing, right?

They are people magnets. Forget Internet matchmaking – pets, especially a dog, is a natural conversation starter. They’re great icebreakers and provide the perfect excuse to talk to a stranger. Pet owners are 60% more likely than non-pet owners to get to know people in their neighbourhoods they hadn’t known before. True, sometimes the conversation stays at “dog level” but sometimes it becomes real social interaction.

The feelgood feeling translate to health benefits too. Here’s the thing, off course Fido needs exercise! A Michigan State University study found that people who own dogs exercise about half an hour more per week than those who don’t live with a dog. They encourage us to get moving. Numerous studies show that having a pet might lower blood pressure and decrease your chances of being obese.

Having a pet will boost heart health. This could very well be the result of the increased physical activity that they promote, but a 2007 UCLA study found that patients hospitalized with heart failure showed improved cardiopulmonary pressures and healthier neurohormone levels after being in contact with a pet for just twelve minutes.

Also, researchers suspect that growing up with pets strengthens the immune system and helps kids build immunity against pet allergens and bacteria.

It almost seems as if pets are the antidote to hour hectic, unhealthy lives, right?!

Whether it’s playing with a pooch or petting a purring kitty, there’s no doubt that pets can bring their owners plenty of joy.

So remember, animal shelters and rescue groups are brimming with healthy, happy pets just waiting for someone to take them home.

You could change a homeless animal’s whole world and get a new best friend out of the deal. Seriously, what could be better than that?

Source: www.rd.com, newsinhealth.nih.gov, aaastateofplay.com, chopra.com, www.webmd.com, www.petbasics.com, www.caregiversolutions.ca, www.goodnet.org, humanesociety.org

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.