1. Decreases stress
In a 2002 study at State University of New York at Buffalo, researchers found that when conducting a stressful task, people experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when a spouse, family member or close friend was nearby. Promises Treatment Centers, which specializes in addiction, not only recommends its patients consider getting a pet, but even allows pets in its rehabilitation facilities, according to Dr. David Sack, CEO of Promises. “One of Promises' core beliefs is that we need to remove obstacles that prevent people from getting help,” Sack says. “We are committed to making Promises a safe and reassuring homelike environment. And what could be more like home than to have your pet accompany you?” 2. Lowers blood pressure
While some studies have found a stronger connection than others, having a pet has the potential to lower blood pressure, especially in hypertensive or high-risk patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “If you have a dog around, your blood pressure is lower,” says Marty Becker, DVM, veterinary consultant for "Good Morning America" and author of the upcoming book, "Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual." “A lot of it goes back to reducing stress: You might lose your job, your house, your 401(k) — but you’ll never lose the unconditional love of your pet.” 3. Eases pain
Believe it or not, pets can be the best medicine, especially when a person is dealing with chronic pain such as migraines or arthritis, says Becker. “Just like Valium, it reduces anxiety. The less anxiety, the less pain,” he says. “Some studies about acute pain actually found that adults who used pet therapy required 50 percent less pain medication than those who did not.” 4. Lowers cholesterol
According to the CDC, another heart-healthy result of owning a pet is lower cholesterol. “They lower cholesterol by about five points,” says Becker. It isn’t clear whether the pet’s presence...