Debating whether or not to get a pet? Research shows lots of benefits to owning a pet beyond cuddles and wet-nosed kisses.

From blood pressure to cholesterol

Pets can keep you healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says pet can decrease your cholesterol, blood pressure and triglyceride levels, as well as combat feelings of loneliness.

A National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded study of 240 married couples found couples that owned a pet had lower heart rates and blood pressure than couples that weren’t pet owners. Plus the pet owners seemed to better deal with stress.

Another NIH-funded study of 421 adults who had been treated for heart attacks, found that a year after the heart attacks, dog owners were more likely to be alive than non-dog owners.

Weight loss and mobility

Those dog walks can pay off, especially since you may lose weight. That’s the findings of a study from the University of Missouri-Columbia, which determined that having a pet can encourage owners to get more exercise, which can result in significant weight loss.  In the study, the group of exercising pet owners that walked regularly lost 14 pounds in one year.

An NIH-funded study of 2000 adults found dog owners who regularly took their dogs for walks were more less likely to be obese and more physically active than adults who didn’t own or walk dogs.

Another NIH-funded three-year study of over 2,500 seniors ages 71 to 82, concluded elderly dog owners who regularly walked their pups, walked faster and longer each week than their dog owner peers who didn’t walk their dogs regularly.  Plus the older dog walkers had better mobility at home.


Preventing allergies

You may think a pet can trigger allergies but not necessarily. According to a three-year research study of 275 children, conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, babies who are exposed early to dogs are less likely to develop allergies, such as eczema and wheezing. The researchers think a child’s fast developing immune system may adapt to the pet.

Emotional and social advantages

Pets can give you purpose, motivation and companionship.  Having a pet can benefit your social life too.

Whether you’re walking your dog in the neighborhood, mingling with fellow pet owners at training classes or dining at pet-friendly restaurants, your pet can help you socialize, which can boost your positivity.