About 68% of the households in the United States own pets. While they provide constant companionship, did you know that owning a pet can actually improve your health?

A recent study dictates that diabetic teens given a fish to care for were more likely to remember to take care of themselves than those who didn’t have a pet. Owning a petshows to help bring down blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride. This means a decreased chance that pet owners will have a heart attack. People who have already had a heart attack were also shown to have a better recovery because of their companions. Cuddling our pets has been shown to strengthen the immune system of children who are exposed to a household pet early in life. Great point to use in the argument to get that new puppy, right?

Aside from the physical benefits of having a furry friend, the effects they can have on mental health are profound. Pets can help people with a wide range of mental issues. Helping depressed people get active and socialize, or even reducing anxiety in Alzheimer’s patients. But the biggest impact pets seem to be having is with children. Children with disabilities like ADHD and Autism take great comfort in the presence of pets. It can help keep them calmer and more focused, and the unconditional love and acceptance of a pet can help the kids become more comfortable with social interactions, too.

Service animals have also found their way into hospitals and even more recently, court rooms. Testifying in and of itself can be scary, especially for victims. To aid in relieving the stress that comes with such a task, dogs are being trained to sit with people, specifically children. During their testimonies, the dog will lay it’s head on their lap or simply sit beside them to be pet, providing an anchor for them to hold to.

We love our pets dearly, and when we bring them into our homes we provide everything we can for them. But in turn they provide us with even more than we knew!