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According to the National Pet Owners Survey, 62 percent of U.S. households own a pet and Christmas time is a popular time to purchase a new family member.
If you are considering buying a pet this Christmas, here are some surprising health benefits of owning a pet:
• Pets help to lower blood pressure.
A recent study at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that people with hypertension who adopted a cat or dog had lower blood pressure readings in stressful situations than did those who did not own a pet.
• Pets help to reduce stress.
Walking with a pet helps to soothe nerves and offers instant relaxation. Studies conducted worldwide have shown that the impact of a stressful situation is lesser on pet owners, especially males, than on those who do not own a pet. Also, petting pets has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rates in adults. Even being in the same room with pets, including fish in tanks, can lower blood pressure and reduce stress in adults and children.
• Pets help to prevent heart disease because pets provide faithful companionship.
Research shows pets provide their owners with greater psychological stability, and thus a measure of protection from heart disease.
• Pets are good for your heart.
A University of Minnesota study found owning a cat could slash the risk of heart attacks and strokes by up to 40 percent. Also, dog and cat owners are significantly more likely to survive heart attacks than non-pet owners, regardless of the severity of the heart attacks.
• Pets help to lower health care costs.
People who own pets traditionally make fewer trips to the doctor than those who don't. As a result, pets help keep the cost of health care down for individuals as well as our nation.
• Pets help to fight depression.
Pets help fight depression and loneliness. When seniors face adversity or trauma, affection from pets takes on great meaning. Their bonding behavior can foster a sense of security.
• Pets may prevent allergies.