Avid animal lovers – including some of us here at the Sanctuary – are known to make some pretty extreme statements about how important their pets are to them. (Ever hear someone tell you they’d die without their pet?) While they may be slightly exaggerating, having a pet can actually improve not only the quality of one’s life, but the quality of one’s health as well. Several different studies have shown pet owners exhibit lower levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides – making them much less prone to future heart attacks. And pet owners who do suffer a heart attack have higher recovery rates than non pet owners. One possible explanation for this is the fact that animals decrease their owner’s stress levels, another benefit of owning a pet. Other studies have shown that children exposed to animals at an early age not only develop stronger immune systems, but are much less likely to develop related allergies. Then there are the ways in which having an animal around impacts our behavior & experience of life. For example, a dog can act as a sort of “personal trainer.” Dog owners responsible for walking for their dog are significantly less likely to be overweight. Pets can serve as a great social connection with other animal lovers, providing an icebreaker and giving you plenty to talk about. Furthermore, there is an unconditional love, a sense of companionship, and a built in feeling of purpose that comes with being a pet owner, all of which are excellent remedies for depression and loneliness. Animals are healing, mood-boosting, and joy-promoting creatures!