Article from: HelpGuide.org
Professionally trained helper animals—such as guide dogs for the blind—offer obvious benefits to us human folk. However, the average domestic pet, such as a dog, cat, rabbit—even a goldfish—can also provide us with many therapeutic benefits. Pets can ease our loneliness, reduce our stress, promote social interaction, encourage exercise and playfulness, and provide us with unconditional love and affection.
Of course, pet ownership also comes with many responsibilities, and should not be undertaken lightly. To best enjoy a healthy, nurturing relationship with a pet—and experience the many therapeutic benefits a domestic animal can offer—it’s important to choose a pet that’s right for your lifestyle.
Pets Can Effect Mood
While most pet owners are clear about the immediate joys that come with sharing their lives with companion animals, many remain unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that can also accompany the pleasure of playing with or snuggling up to a furry friend. It’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the human-animal bond. Studies have found that:
One of the reasons for these therapeutic effects is that most pets fulfill the basic human need to touch. Even hardened criminals in prison have shown long-term changes in their behavior after interacting with pets, many of them experiencing mutual affection for the first time. Stroking, holding, cuddling, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe us when we’re stressed. The companionship of a pet can also ease loneliness, and some pets are a great stimulus for healthy exercise, which can substantially boost mood.