Are you laughing at the idea of your miniature schnauzer dragging you from a burning building or fending off an attacker? Your pint-sized pet doesn’t have to have that sort of super-power. Research shows, however, that simply having a pet at home will help keep you healthy and make your recovery from serious medical conditions quicker and more sure.

According to veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, author of The Healing Power of Pets, your pets reduce stress, help to ease depression, reduce doctors’ visits, and assist you in sticking to your exercise routines. Here are some other proven ways pets are life-savers.

  1. Healthy Heart Helpers. In a 1980 study, researchers from the University of Maryland Hospital found that heart attack patients who owned a pet were four times more likely to live one year after their heart attack than those who didn’t own a pet. Of the 39 research participants who lived without a pet, 11 died within a year of their heart attack; of the 50 subjects who owned pets, only three had died at the end of the yearlong study. The researchers also found that pet owners had shorter hospital stays because they wanted to hurry home to take care of their pets.
  2. Snuggly Stroke-Stoppers. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to a stroke. Dr. Karen Allen of the State University of New York in Buffalo studied highly stressed NYC stockbrokers who took medication for high blood pressure. She found that, by adopting a pet, the stockbrokers in the study reduced their stress right away. The drop in stress, as a result of simply having a new pet in their homes, allowed almost half of the people in the study to stop taking their medication.
  3. Cancer-Controlling Critters. Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco and Stanford University discovered in 2008 that people who have pets as companions are nearly 30 percent less likely to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system commonly discovered in people 65 years old and older, than those without live-in animal allies. The researchers think that living with pets boosts a person’s immune system; they also found that the longer a person has lived with pets, the greater the health protection those animals provide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the top five most common causes of death in America are heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Science has given us a new reason to love our pets. If you’d like to adopt one, stop by and speak with a Bath & Biscuits emoloyee to find out what type, breed, and size of animal would make a good companion for you. Saving a shelter animal’s life may also save yours. Put the healing power of pets to work in your life!