An estimated 63 percent of American households have pets. That's about 75 million dogs and 85 million cats, in addition to the number of homes with birds, horses, reptiles, fish and other exotic animals [source: ASPCA]. And if you're like 90 percent of other pet owners, your pets are part of your family [source: McNicholas].
Pets improve the quality of our lives. They offer companionship, and they also offer increased opportunity for exercise and social interactions with other people -- all positive benefits that translate into better health for pet owners. Studies find that pet owners have lower blood pressure, better total cholesterol levels, and fewer feelings of depression and depressive episodes than people without pets.
Thinking of opening your home to a pet? Consider adopting: There are an estimated 6 to 8 million cats and dogs placed in shelters every year [source: The Humane Society].