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12 ways pets can contribute to your good health --

1. Pets may lower your cholesterol.

If you own a dog, those daily walks are helping to keep your cholesterol in check.

2.Pets help relieve stress.

Simply being in the same room as your pet can have a calming effect. Oxytocin is released which brings feelings of joy. A decrease in a stress hormone called cortisol aids in stress relief.

3. Pets may reduce your blood pressure.

Petting your pooch or kitty brings down blood pressure while pleasing your pet.

4. Pets boost your fitness.

A study found that people who walked with dogs improved their fitness more than people who walked with other people. Dog owners were found to walk 300 minutes a week compared to people who didn't own dogs who walked 168 minutes a week.

5. Pets reduce your cardiovascular disease risk.

Lower cholesterol, stress and blood pressure combined with increased fitness may add up to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

6. Pets may prevent allergies in children.

A study showed that children who were exposed to pets before they were 6 months old were less likely to develop allergic diseases, hay fever and eczema as they got older.

7. Pets relieve depression.

Pets can provide social support for their owners, who tend to have better overall well being than non-owners.

8. Pets ease chronic pain.

Having pets around the house can help distract from chronic pain. Petting your animal releases endorphins which are powerful pain relievers.

9. Pets improve relationships.

Young adults with a deep bond to their pets felt more connected in their relationships and to their communities than those who did not have animals.

10. Pets monitor health changes.

Pets can sense when you are experiencing physical changes such as low blood sugar or changes in your brain that will trigger a seizure.

11. Pets boost your self esteem.

Pets are completely non-judgmental, don't have an agenda, take you at face value and they don't care what you look like or how you behave.

12. Pets bring your family closer together.

A pet is good for the whole family. They help family members work together in caring for a pet. Kids learn how to treat others with kindness and caring and they teach responsibility. It is often a child's first death experience which can be a teachable moment.

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