Believe it or not, many doctors are “prescribing” pet ownership to relieve stress. In so doing blood pressure, pain perception, and risk of heart attacks and strokes decrease substantially. Many studies have been conducted correlating human health issues and pet ownership. It has been proven that within 30 minutes of being in the presence of a dog or cat or even fish, your body responds. The hormone serotonin, also known as the “feel good” hormone increases and the stress hormone known as cortisol decreases. Some of the actual findings are not only surprising but startling. For instance: pet owners use less medications for themselves and go to their own doctors less frequently than non pet owners. People who have cat(s) are less likely to die from heart attacks or other cardiovascular diseases such as a stroke. Some studies claim that as much as 40% are more likely to die of heart attacks if they never had or currently do not have a cat(s). However; it is well known that owning a dog(s) does reduce stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure. In fact, dog owners are 8 times more likely to survive one year after a heart attack than non dog owners. Children with pets who are dealing with the stress of parents divorcing do much better psychologically than those who do not have pets. Even exposing children at a very early age to dogs and cats have benefits. Rarely are very young children allergic to pet dander and when children are exposed to pet ownership at an early age they have less allergies when they are adults. This exposure stimulates their immune system in a favorably way, much the same way a vaccine does.