Seeing photos of cute furry creatures gives us all a case of the “warm fuzzies”, but experts say that owning a pet is good for you both physically and emotionally. The benefits of our four legged friends extend well beyond the comfort you find petting them or watching them play.

Being a pet parent certainly keeps you active. There is no motivation to get moving like the fear of having that new flooring stained by an accident! Experts agree that dog owners are more likely to be active than those that do not. Walking your four legged friend is a great source of low impact and intensity exercise. Why not grab the leash and take a stroll around the block with your furry friend? His tail will be wagging and you just burned off a couple calories!

While there are physical benefits of owning a dog, there are numerous emotional ones as well. Not only does Spot get you outside for a walk, he keeps you from being a hermit too. According to Alan Entin of the American Psychological Association’s Division of Family Psychology, “Being outside with a dog helps you to meet people. You meet dog owners and that helps to improve your social life.” Taking a trip to the local dog park provides interaction for you both.

Pets provide companionship that is unmatched by a human. Many pet parents treat and talk to their “children” as they do a family member. No matter what the day has brought you, your furry friends are always happy to see you. There playful energy and demeanor provides a distraction from the stress of work and everyday life, not to mention there crazy behavior and antics usually make for a good laugh! Studies show that lonely individuals found as much comfort and companionship thinking about their pet as they found with their closest friend.

Spending time with your pets can be a natural mood enhancer. Time with your pet can lower your cortisol levels, a stress hormone, and increase serotonin production. Research has shown that people who had never owned a cat were 40% more likely to die from a heart attack and that heart attack survival rates were higher in those individuals who owned a dog.

How many times have you heard Fido say, “I can’t believe you just did that!” or “Are you really going to leave the house dressed like that?”Chances are never. Pets will not judge or talk about you, which in turn instills higher self worth. Most importantly our four legged friends show unconditional love. No matter what life brings your way, Garfield and Fido will always love you (but a treat or two wouldn’t hurt either).

Putting up with a few unwanted barks or purrs or even a little extra shedding doesn’t seem so bad with all these other perks. Does it?