• Therapeutic Benefits of Pets

     

     

    How Caring for a pet can make you happy and healthier

    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:

    • Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
    • People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets.
    • Playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
    • Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
    • Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.
    • Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.
    • A pet doesn’t have to be a dog or a cat. Even watching fish in an aquarium can help reduce muscle tension and pulse rate.

    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.

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