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Looking back at 2008 I can say without a doubt in my mind that the best thing I did for my health was get a gorgeous Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Wally. He is the apple of my eye, besides my husband of course. I’ve always heard that having a pet is good for your health so I did a little research and came up with some cold hard facts. Besides the warm and fuzzy fact that there will never be anyone more eager to lick your face when you walk in the front door and you’ll always have someone to motivate you to take that daily walk no matter how tired you may be.

Throughout history animals have played in important role in the lives of humans and now studies are showing that owning, and loving, a pet can increase our physical and psychological well being. People with pets have been found to have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels compared to those that don’t, even when matched for age, weight, diet and smoking habits, reducing the risk of heart disease.

Dogs have been shown to reduce blood pressure in a number of populations, especially the act of stroking a pet. Even stockbrokers who had stressful tasks to carry out had smaller increases in blood pressure when a dog was around the office.

People who own pets are often in better physical health because of the need to exercise and care for their pets. Owners were also found to have significantly less doctors visits than non-pet owners.

Our pets helps us cope with stress, they’ll be there for us when the going gets tough and even some of our friends don’t know how to be there for us. Pets can also serve as anti-depressants,  increasing the body’s release of endorphins and other pleasure causing chemicals.

As much as I love being a pet owner I agree that it’s not for everyone. Pets become a part of the family for better or worse, they’ll make you happy, enhance your compassion for living things and they’ll stick by your side through thick and then. Just make sure that you can give them the attention they deserve and stick by them too! Just imagine a small bundle of love to come home to that will never talk back and that will make you healthier just by being around, could there be anything better?

This article was contributed
by Jacqueline M. Banks.

Image courtesy of wikipedia