Whether our pets are big and sloppy, tiny and skittish, noble or ornery, shy or zealous, they carve out a huge place in our lives. Studies suggest that pet owners'€™ blood pressure, cholesterol and even triglyceride levels are generally lower than those of people who do not own pets. Pet owners tend to recover from illnesses faster. Pet owners seem to experience less stress. Pet owners in general are less likely to need to visit a doctor or take medications.

Australia, a country that has more pets than any other in the world, claims that cats and dogs saved their national health expenditure an estimated $3.86 billion. Aside from the medical benefits, pet owners are happier, less lonely, and more content.

How Pets Lower Blood Pressure, Reduce Stress, and Make Our Lives Happier

What is it about pets that make our lives so much better? Perhaps it'€™s their ability to bring us balance and a level of intimacy we may not otherwise have.

Balance? Yes. If you are not a terribly "driven"€ person — who would otherwise be a confirmed couch potato — your dog or cat is probably getting you off the couch and on your feet. Your pet'€™s invitation to play is hard to resist. Your dog may enthusiastically request a walk, or at least to go outside.

– If you are over-scheduled and too busy to breathe, when your dog or cat asks to be petted and loved, it will cause you to take a moment to slow down and enjoy life€“ as often as possible.

– If you are extremely neat and tidy, your pet will teach you that having an immaculate house may not be as important (or attainable) as you once thought.

– If you are shy, your pet will help you meet people and talk to them.

– If you are used to caring only for yourself, your pet will show you how fulfilling it is to care for someone else.

– If you tend to feel useless or worthless, your pet will show you how important you are.

– If you tend to believe you are king or queen of the universe, your pet will bring you the humility you need to come back down to earth, usually as you clean up after him.

How We Are the Same, and Help Each Other

Intimacy? Definitely. We are able to have a relationship with our pets that is nearly impossible with other humans. We can talk to them anytime, about anything. We can just be with them, stroking their fur, communicating our feelings in our own way, with or without words. Our pets understand our moods, comfort our sorrows, and never judge us. And unlike our human friends, our pets never outgrow us, never tire of us, and never disappoint us.

No matter how badly you feel about yourself, your pet always thinks you are the best thing on two legs, and is always thrilled to see you. What can make your life better than that?