Pets: a prescription for health

Companion animals help their people lead happier, healthier lives

People who own pets—dogs, cats and other domesticated animals—already know that their companions give them the warm and fuzzies. You know, those feelings of contentment, happiness—of being loved. But there actually are health benefits to pet ownership—both in the mental and physical realms. Companion animals are anxiety-reducers—they release hormones that cut down on those that trigger stress. Dogs, in particular, reduce the risk of heart disease, for example. Walking them helps lower blood pressure. Studies show that dog owners with heart issues tend to live longer than cardiac patients who don’t have canines. Research also indicates that pet owners generally are happier and less lonely.