They’re beautiful, lovable, entertaining, and always happy to see us. They’re our least demanding friends and biggest admirers. We fascinate them and they amuse us. They’re our dogs, and what would we do without them?
More than 60 percent of American households include pets, and, as most pet owners instinctively know, animal companions offer more than just company: They also help reduce stress. In hectic times and through everyday challenges, they provide affection, diversion and a calming link to the reality of the moment.
The physical perks of having pets are well documented, from improved blood pressure to reduced risk of heart disease. In fact, pets might actually help prolong your life. A 1995 study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that dog ownership increased the likelihood of survival after a heart attack. As for quality of life, a study of Medicare patients found that dog owners had 21 percent fewer physician visits than people who didn’t have dogs.