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Eight Ways Pets Can Improve Your HealthEight Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health

Ask any pet owner and they can tell you all the ways their pet has improved their life better -- but there are many ways a pet can actually improve your health in ways you would never expect!

1. Pets Actually PREVENT Allergies & Asthma in Children

It's amazing, but true: growing up with furred animals in your home actually decreases the chances of developing allergies and asthma. Research continues to prove this fact:

"If a dog lived in the home, infants were less likely to show evidence of pet allergies -- 19% vs. 33%. They also were less likely to have eczema, a common allergy skin condition that causes red patches and itching. In addition, they had higher levels of some immune system chemicals -- a sign of stronger immune system activation," says researcher James E. Gern, MD, a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Research shows that infants at risk for developing asthma were much less likely to do so if they were raised in a home with cats, unless their mother had a cat allergy, then they were far more likely.

So if your family is prone to allergies, having Fido in the house with your kids might not be as bad an idea as you thought!

2. Pets Reduce Stress & Depression

Research shows that individuals suffering from AIDs who had pets were less likely to suffer from depression than those with out.

It also shows that individuals with high blood pressure who adopted a cat or dog saw lower blood pressure in subsequent stressful situations! In only 15 minutes with your furry pet your body undergoes physical changes that dramatically reduce stress and improve your mood!

Playing with pets helps to increase your levels of serotonin and dopamine, which improve your mood, and can help to reduce levels of harmful chemicals that are increased when your stressed, like cortisol and norepinephrine, which can increase your chances for illness.

3. Pets Are Good For Your Heart

Individuals who suffered from heart attacks with pets lived longer than those with out pets. Men with pets have a lower risk of heart disease and people with cats over their lifetime actually have a 40% lower risk of dying of a heart attack. Pets have also been shown to help decrease hypertension, cholesterol and blood pressure!

4. Pets Help The Elderly

Owning a pet offers the elderly companionship and love and decreases loneliness. It also provides the opportunity for exercise, which can positively benefit individuals with illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and in the prevention of osteoporosis. In addition, doctors encourage their arthritis patients to watch their cats and stretch each time their cat does -- this helps owners to remember to stretch and helps to relieve pain! Research also suggests that Alzheimer's patients have less anxiety outbursts when they had pets!

5. Pets Reduce Obesity

Dog owners tend to be more physically active and physically fit than non-dog owners! So take Fido for a walk in the sun (or the cold) today! You can also include your pet into your exercise routine: consider lifting your cat (carefully) instead of a dumbell,  signing up for a doga (dog and people yoga) class or shine a flashlight on the wall for your cat while you use your elliptical.

6. Cats Can Prevent Strokes

Research shows that cat owners are less likely to suffer from strokes but currently the reason is unknown.

7. New Generation of Service Dogs

One in three dogs living with a diabetic has the ability to alert their owner to a sudden drop in blood glucose levels which can be lifesaving. Research suggests they may respond to a change in smell given off by the chemical decrease. Dogs for Diabetics is working to train dogs for this specific purpose.

Dogs have also been trained to alert people when children are having seizures and to lay next to them to prevent them from hurting themselves in the process. Some dogs can even perform normal tasks that are difficult for Parkinson's patients, which helps them to live more independent lives such as picking up dropped items and open doors. Talk about man's best friend!

8. Pets and ADHD

Owning and caring for a pet can help kids with ADHD burn excess energy, learn responsibility, focus and self esteem.

With so many health benefits to owning cats and dogs, how can you afford not to? Come by the shelter today and meet your forever friend and start becoming healthier and happier together!

(Source: WebMD.com)