20 /May 10 reasons why owning a pet is good for your health Post by Alex Barratt - 0 comment OWNING a pet is good for your health ... it's official! Pet power can make you live longer, recover faster from illness and be more productive at work. The UK is a nation of animal lovers, and according to the Pet Health Council, we share our homes with over seven million cats and six million dogs that's a lot of animal magic! The bond between owner and pet is special, but who would have thought it would have health- boosting benefits too? We list the top 10 reasons why you should have a pet. 1 If you want to live a healthier life get a dog, research suggests. Earlier this year, a psychologist from Queen's University, Belfast, said dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Writing in the British Journal of Health Psychology, Dr Deborah Wells said pet owners tended in general to be healthier than the average person. 2 Dog owners were also found to have fewer minor ailments and serious medical problems. There was also the suggestion that dogs could aid recovery from serious illnesses such as heart attacks, and act as an early warning' to detect an approaching epileptic seizure. 3 Having a pet can help children develop better social skills. Researchers at the University of Leicester found that children between birth and age six years in pet-owning families will have better social skills, better speech, better co-ordination, more confidence and will be less likely to suffer from allergies. 4 A five-year-study of 600 children aged 3-18 years revealed that pet owning children who are slow learners or whose parents have divorced cope better with life than those who don't have a pet. 5 Stroking a cat or dog can bring down blood pressure and one study of 369 heart-attack survivors found that those who had dogs were less likely to die within a year than those who didn't. 6 The British Medical Journal found that pets can often act as social catalysts'. This was particularly important for those at risk of social isolation, such as the elderly or those with physical disabilities. A Warwick University study said 40% of dog owners say they make friends more easily due to their pet. 7 Pets can help recently widowed people deal with stress. A UK study revealed that three months after bereavement, pet owners had fewer physical symptoms, such as crying, than non-pet owners. 8 Cats can help you overcome stress. A Cats Protection study of 500 cat owners aged over 55 revealed 82% found that their cat helped them overcome feelings of stress; 62% said cat ownership helped overcome feelings of loneliness and 75% sometimes preferred to share their feelings with their cat rather than a partner or friend. The same survey also looked at 100 cat owners aged 13 years or under where 80% said their cat helped them get on better with family and friends while 87% of children regard their cat as a close friend'. 9 IT may sound obvious, but owning a dog is a sure fire way to make sure you - and your pet - get some regular exercise by taking it out for walkies every day. 10 How about taking your beloved pooch or kitty to work with you? They can enhance work productivity too. According to a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, having a pet at work created a more productive environment in 73% of firms. The companies that were surveyed allowed dogs, cats, fish, small animals, reptiles and birds in the workplace. The survey also revealed health benefits such as reduced blood pressure, lowered stress levels and improved physical and emotional health.