According to ASPCA.org, approximately 37-47% of all households within the United States have a dog, while 30-37% have a cat. If you fall into one or both of those percentages, you can relate to the unbreakable bond people have with their four legged friends. Pets are a fun addition to your home, but did you know owning a pet can provide many health benefits? Cats and dogs can help your heart and change your lifestyle for the better. In fact, it’s suggested that the companionship provided by furry friends can add years onto our lives. Studies have shown that pets relieve feelings of isolation that people may feel when living alone. The simple act of stroking a cat or dog lowers your blood pressure; helping to relive the symptoms of anxiety or stress that can cause serious health issues. The National Center for Health Research discusses a study that showed participants who owned a cat or dog had lower heart rates and blood pressure when initially measured. Pet owners also had a quicker recovering heart rate when put in a stressful situation. Owning a dog requires lifestyle changes that provide health benefits, also. Taking your dog on frequent walks helps to keep you fit and active, which benefits your health and mood. We all know that exercise is essential for healthy living and dogs make excellent walking partners! Visit www.helpguide.org for more information about the positive impacts pets can have on our health.