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As I'm sure most of us pet owners know, a pet can be a great comfort to you at the best of times. Well now various studies have shown some remarkable health benefits of owning an animal.

It's what they call the 'wonderful, wide-ranging biochemical and physiological effects pets can have on those suffering from chronic pain and fibromyalgia'.

Smaller dogs in particular have been of benefit to fibro sufferers who cannot get our much. Through their unconditional love, dogs can encourage you to be a little more active, feel more secure, and help your mood.

Pet therapy is used in some hospitals and care homes, just the simple act of petting a dog can have a calming effect on people and have a knock on effect with lowering stress levels and anxiety.

Pets as Therapy is a national therapy founded in 1983, which provides theraputic visits to hospitals, hospices, care homes and special needs schools. http://www.petsastherapy.org/

There's a lovely article on The Power of Pets by Sally Abrahms which is well worth reading http://www.holisticonline.com/stress/pet-therapy-bjs.htm

christmas 2011