Many studies show that having a pet in your household comes with a bunch of health benefits for your family.  A potentially longer, healthier life comes with pet ownership and can help reduce stress when times are tough.

Reduce your blood pressure – a study of NY stockbrokers found that those with dogs or cats had lower blood pressure and heart rates than those that didn’t have pets.

Get moving – having a dog in the house encourages you to get out and walk with your dog. About 60% of dog owners who took their dogs for regular walks were considered to get moderate or vigorous exercise based on standards.

Meet & greet – walking your pet makes you more approachable and gives you common ground to strike up a conversation with fellow dog walkers.

Reduce stress – studies have found that being around animals can decrease cortisol levels. Many offices are letting employees bring dogs to work and some universities let students borrow dogs during stressful times of the year.

Lower your risk of heart attacks – cat owners were 40% less likely to have a fatal heart attack. It isn’t known if the cat has a calming effect or if people who chose cats are at less risk for heart disease to start with. If you’re a cat person, you’re in luck!

Brighten your mood – pets can bring a smile to your face when you’re feeling down and give you a sense of purpose to have an animal to care for. Mental health professionals recognize animal-assisted therapy as a treatment option for mood disorders. A pet helps you feel less isolated.

Allergy prevention – a seven-year study found that children with exposure to cats or dogs as babies were half as likely to have allergies and asthma as those with no pets. Infants with more than one pet had the lowest risk of allergies. 

Reduce stroke risk – cat owners have a third less risk of having a stroke. Cats are more stress-free and petting a cat can lower stress levels. 

Be a better reader – kids who read to animals have better social skills, and are more sharing and cooperative, with fewer behavioral problems.

Before you adopt your new best friend, take a moment to consider what type of animal would be best for your lifestyle. If you love to be outdoors, an active dog might suit you just fine. Working long hours may mean a cat is better for you than a dog. Consider your time and space limitations to help make the best decision. Be sure to factor in food costs and health care check ups with the vet in your budget.