Pet owners have long known that their fur-babies make them feel well on a daily basis, but science has now proven that your pets truly do keep you well – just by sharing your company.

Caring for a pet comes many perks, including mood boosting and immune boosting benefits that last. Dog owners reap the benefits of having improved fitness from their energetic pup’s active lifestyle, and cat owners can celebrate having lower blood pressure, fewer strokes and healthier hearts.

Pets provide connection that helps to combat depression and anxiety, and children who grow up with pets in their home are less likely to develop allergies and show signs of improved immune strength. The benefits of pet ownership are countless, but there are a several specific ways that your pet is directly improving your health every day.

Here are 5 ways your pet is good for your health.

Mood Boosting
You likely already know this, but spending just a few minutes around your pet can help you to feel better after challenging days. Your body truly does have a physiological response to your animals, as spending time with them begins to lower cortisol, a stress hormone, while serotonin, a feel good hormone, goes on the rise. Pet owners have a lower incidence of depression, and report that pets are a crucial part of their feeling a sense of connection, especially during times of loss, isolation or sadness.

Lower Blood Pressure & Cholesterol
Pet owners tend to have lower blood pressure and better levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, in part because pet owners tend to have a more active lifestyle. An active lifestyle doesn’t explain all of these good health perks, though. Researchers believe that petting an animal can have an actual calming effect on your central nervous system, causing your blood pressure to lower as you give your pet the love and attention they need.

Heart Health
Overall, pet owners are less likely to die of any cardiac disease, and studies have found that cat and dog owners are both less likely to have heart attacks or heart failure. Whether it’s the active lifestyle, lower blood pressure and cholesterol or the benefit of having unconditional love and connection, the benefits are the same – owning a cat or dog is good for your heart.

Improved Fitness
Dog owners specifically benefit from the active lifestyle that dog ownership affords. Daily walks, games of fetch and agility practice all keep you and your pup on your feet and moving. This lifestyle leads to improved physical fitness that helps dog owners to stay fit and strong.

Fewer Allergies & Stronger Immune System
Studies show that children who grow up in homes with dogs or cats, they develop fewer allergies and higher levels of immune system chemicals that help keep them healthy as they grow.