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Open Your Heart to a Pet, It’s Good For You

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and many people are thinking about love or the ones they love. As a pet lover, I’m sure you include Fluffy or Fido on that list. Having a pet or pets in your life is not only fulfilling, but it’s actually good for you in some many ways. So if you were thinking about adding another pet to your family or adopting your first pet, here are a few incentives:

Pet-Owners Live Longer, Healthier Lives. There’s actual scientific evidence that having pets lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol and leads to a longer and happier life. In addition, cat owners specifically have a lower chance of strokes than non-cat owners. Having a pet in your home also increases an infant’s immunity and makes them less likely to develop asthma.

Pets make you more active. There’s nothing that gets you on your feet and moving (regardless of the weather) quicker than a dog scratching to be taken on a walk. If you need an exercise partner, there’s none better than one with four paws whether that’s a dog or an adventurous kitty. So grab a lease and hit the jogging lane or opt for a hike.

Pets make you happy. Literally. Being around your pet causes your body to release seratonin which, well, makes you happy. It’s the same hormone released when you’re in love (or when you eat chocolate).Spending time with your pet also reduces your levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.

Pets make you more responsible. Knowing that another being is relying on you for its care gives you purpose and a sense of responsibility. Pets are also proven to help their owners cope with depression. Helping others, whether that’s another person or animal, just makes you happy. And, as an added bonus, living with and caring for a pet can help children become more responsible and self-sufficient.

We could all stand to be a little more like our pets. Animals are amazing creatures. They don’t hold grudges, they find joy in the smallest things, and they let us know the wonder of truly unconditional love. As John Grogan said: “Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”

If you have a pet or pets already, then this is old news. But if you don’t, then this is a perfect opportunity for you to adopt one. Just drop by your local shelter or Humane Association, fill out some paperwork, and, for a small fee, you could be enjoying the friendship of a cat or dog. Many shelters even have Valentine’s Day specials. So instead of buying a heart-shaped box of chocolates this holiday, why not open your heart to a pet? You’ll be glad you did.

Beverly Forehand

Beverly Forehand is a freelance writer, editor, and social & digital media marketer living in Nashville, TN. Her stories and articles have been published in Atriad Press' Haunted Encounters, Bewildering Stories, FATE, Fine Gardening, Muscadine Lines, the Ghost Story Society, and other publications. She published a pet recipe book with Dawson Progressive and was a monthly columnist for Critter Exchange/All Creature’s Exchange, an animal advocacy newspaper, for many years. She has published a book of ghost stories, Haunted Homeplace: Tales from the Borderlands of Tennessee and Kentucky with 23House Publishing. If you like a scary story with a cat or two thrown in, you can find it at: Her hobbies include cultivating her medieval herb garden and begging her cats (unsuccessfully) to stay off the sofa. Follow her blog at or on Twitter at @Beforehand

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