New research has shown that 48 per cent of people say they enjoy health benefits such as stress reduction due to owning a pet.
According to the survey by Saga Pet Insurance, 90 per cent of people have pets in their homes -the vast majority of which are cats and dogs - and almost half of owners say they feel it makes them healthier.
However, 93 per cent of owners worry about large vet bills, and the nation's love of animals is shown in the 92 per cent of people who fear the thought of losing their beloved pets through illness or old age.
The survey also found that only 18 per cent of owners use kennels or catteries when they go away, with most choosing to leave their pets with relatives or friends.
Meanwhile, research from Sainsbury's Bank has shown that 43 per cent of cats and dogs seen by vets are overweight or obese.
The bank has warned owners that their pet insurance claims could be invalidated if it can be shown they have not looked after their pets properly.
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