Want to Improve Your Health? Get a Pet

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Filed Under: General Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Having a pet can improve your health.Although owning a pet doesn't make you immune to illness, pet owners are generally healthier than those who don’t have pets. Study after study shows that people with pets have fewer minor health problems, require fewer visits to the doctor and less medication, and have fewer risk factors for cardiovascular problems.

If you own an energetic puppy, it's almost impossible not to get adequate exercise. If you have a loyal and protective dog, you're probably not suffering through sleepless nights. And if a faithful cat is constantly rubbing up against your legs or purring contentedly in your lap, it's hard to feel lonely.

Plus, interacting with animals produces measurable, positive physiological responses in humans. In one study, researchers found that volunteers who talked to and petted their dogs had more normal blood pressures than volunteers who read aloud or rested quietly.

Numerous studies have also found that people with impaired cognitive function are less agitated and smile, laugh, and talk more when a therapy dog is present. In addition, working (and playing) with animals helps boost mood and can even improve self-esteem.

If you are considering pet ownership, do a little research. Whether you live in a big house with a large backyard or a tiny apartment with a “no dogs allowed” policy, you are sure to find a pet that suits your needs and lifestyle. Whatever pet you choose, you'll have a friend for life.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have a pet?

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