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Chronic stress is a killer. It produces cortisol, a hormone that in high doses weakens muscles and bones, spikes your blood sugar, compromises your immune system, increases your blood pressure and increases your risk of heart disease — all of which can send you to an early grave. You can reduce stress by regular exercise, meditation and doing things you enjoy. You can also get yourself a fur baby. Studies show that pets give their owners many health benefits, from lowering blood pressure to boosting your sense of wellbeing. There’s even a phenomenon called the oxytocin-gaze positive loop, whereby you and your dog give each other surges of the feelgood hormone when you look into each other’s eyes. That’s why it’s called puppy love.