You may not realize it, but your pet may be adding to your lifespan. Studies have shown a significant difference in stress levels between people who own pets and those who don't and pet owners tend to live much longer lives.
But why is this? For one thing, our pets can help us from being so lazy. We take our dogs for walks, play Frisbee with them in the park, or chase them around the house because they got a hold of our new shoes. This helps to increase our cardiovascular exercise and keep us at a healthy weight.
Our pets can help on an emotional level too. As human beings, we need to feel wanted and loved. Who makes you feel more wanted and loved than your high-jumping, tail-waggin' furry friend? Your dog makes you feel like you are a celebrity when you walk through the door after a long day's work. Our pet's affection can have a very therapeutic affect on us, whether we realize it or not. They know when we are sad and try to comfort us on some level. Research on individuals of all ages clearly show that 15 minutes of direct contact a day with an animal reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, slows heart rate, improves sleep and reduces the risk of depression.
So go to your local animal shelter and pick out a pet because the life you save may very well be your own.