Special to www.CNN.com
Have you experienced the unconditional love of a cat or a dog? Have you ever buried your face in a pet's soft fur and — for a delightful moment or two — felt a moment of peace and tranquility? Many people have.
But the value of a pet extends well beyond moments like these. Your pet may actually help keep you healthy.
What scientists know about pets and your health
If you already have a pet, you likely know it takes a bit of work. But the work often pays off. Dogs need regular walks — which gets you out walking, too. And the health benefits of walking are well documented. On the other hand, a pet may be able to sense your moods and seek you out when you need some care — offering a warm nuzzle or, in the case of a cat, simply resting in your lap and purring.
Here's how living with and caring for a cherished animal can positively affect your health. Living with and caring for a pet may:
*Protect your heart after a heart attack. Scientists have found that people who owned dogs were more likely to be alive one year after a heart attack than were people who didn't own dogs.
*Protect your heart and blood vessels and help you cope with stress. In comparisons of the heart rate and blood pressure of people without pets versus those of pet-owners, people with pets had lower heart rates and blood pressure levels. An added benefit was that people with pets also had less increase in their heart rate and blood pressure when put under stress. Their blood pressure also dropped faster after a stressful event.
*Help you manage your blood pressure. People being treated for high blood pressure with an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor received additional blood pressure-lowering benefits while under stress if they also owned a pet.
*Improve your mood and sense of well-being. Studies of older adults have found that those who shared their lives with pets were less likely to experience depression, were better able to tolerate living alone, and were more active than were their counterparts who didn't have pets. In people with AIDS, those who owned pets experienced less depression than did people with AIDS who didn't have pets. Pets may also reduce feelings of loneliness among nursing home residents.
I know that when I broke my leg that having my dogs around me made me feel better.It kept me from getting depressed.I felt really down the day and half I was in the hospital for surgery but when i got home to my babies I started to feel better instantly.
It was comforting to have them lay on the bed with me.They would lay there with their little paws across my cast and watch tv.Tcup would lay almost under my chin and snuggle.
There are many dogs out there that provide comfort to their owners. I feel that Chihuahuas offer more because of their size and breeding.