Pets can help prevent eczema and some allergies in children. Babies and toddlers who live with dogs -- but not cats -- have lower rates of childhood eczema than those raised without dogs. And young children who've had a cat or dog since their first year of life have fewer pet allergies than other kids their age.
People who own pets make fewer trips to the doctor than those who don't. As a result, pets help keep the cost of health care down for individuals as well as our nation.
Pet owners tend to have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than people who don't have pets.
Petting pets has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rates in adults. Even being in the same room with pets, including fish in tanks, can lower blood pressure and reduce stress in adults and children. Indeed, many dentists and other doctors keep aquariums in their waiting rooms. This not only helps relieve anxiety, but reduces the need for pain medication as well.
Regardless of age, people who have pets, especially dogs, get more exercise than non-pet owners. While this isn't surprising for dog owners, owners of other kinds of pets are also more likely to be physically active than people who don't have pets. Perhaps as a result of this increase in exercise, adults and kids with pets also tend to have lower rates of obesity.
Dog and cat owners are significantly more likely to survive heart attacks than non-pet owners, regardless of the severity of the heart attacks.