Animals and humans seem to have a naturally healing relationship. They thrive on being close to us and we live happier when they are around. Whether you are dog person, a cat person, or a guinea pig person, your pet comforts you.
They make us smile and they have a way of calming us. In fact, there is a lot of evidence that proves that animals make our lives greatly enhanced.
Therapeutic Effects of Pets
Children with autism are often able to form bonds with pets before they can with people. Animals have an extraordinary way of connecting with these children, perhaps because they can communicate with body language and don’t require verbal responses. Dogs are quite happy to be present, next to you on the floor.
Some dogs are even capable of determining when something is wrong with us. Beagles and other breeds with keen noses can tell when your blood sugar is falling or rising rapidly. Some dogs can smell cancer cells on the skin known as melanoma.
Dogs that are in tune with their owners are capable of knowing when a seizure is about to hit you, moments before it happens.
Scientists believe this is because they are incredibly accurate in their sense of smell and the chemical reaction that happens when the seizure is triggered causes a smell that they tune-in to.
When someone learns the reaction of their dog to this smell, it can become an alert to the seizure which allows them to find a spot to lay down or sit before they fall. If they are driving, a seizure alerting dog can clue you in that you should pull-over.
Dogs have amazingly keen hearing, smell and instincts. When these are shaped into useful tools, humans can reap the benefits but not all things dogs do need to be trained. They simply have an effect on us that is inarguable beneficial.
Here are some of the things that we know happen to us when we are near or touching our pets:
- Serotonin production is increased, therefore elevating the moods of people. We can be raised out of depression with the companionship of our dog, cat, or other pet.
- Blood pressure is lowered when you are petting a dog or a cat. Any furry creature in your lap, allowing you to pet them, will naturally lower your blood pressure and relax you. This is incredibly effective at relieving anxiety as well.
- Some research has shown that pet companionship has helped to lower cholesterol in humans. In turn, triglycerides have lowered, and this might be due to less stress hormones released in the body. More research is needed to substantiate these claims.
- Decreased loneliness. Having a pet, especially for seniors, is a great way to reduce the empty nest syndrome that befalls so many. When the house is suddenly empty, there are feelings of loneliness and lack of direction for many. The animal being there to talk to, take responsibility for and care for is a motivator in getting people to be productive. They have someone (their pet) to take care of.
- People tend to fight harder to recover after an illness in order to get home to their pet. This is another motivator in staying well and recovering faster. When someone is in the hospital, they recover faster so that they can get home, versus the person who would be going home to no one. Pets are a strong motivation.
- Pets are a reason to get out of the house for the person with social anxiety or agoraphobia. When you have a dog, you have to go take it out for a walk and you have to go buy dog food. People want to pet your dog everywhere you go, and this has a way of forcing people to be more social when they wouldn’t otherwise. When we are more social, we tend to stay healthier.
- Some people talk to their pets when they live alone and even though it is jokingly stated that this is crazy behavior, it’s actually quite normal and good for you. By voicing your thoughts and ideas, you release tension and disarm anger, anxiety, and even grief by talking to your pet. This is a very therapeutic value in having a pet.
In general, people with pets live longer and they live more satisfying lives. A pet gives you someone to love, no matter how alone you may have been in your life, your pet becomes this innocent animal that depends on you for food, for bathing, medical care, and in return they listen to you, never judge you, and they are always happy to give hugs, kisses, and cuddles.
You’ll also have a sense of satisfaction if you rescue a pet from a terrible life by adoption. You’ll have a sense of being needed, which his important. You can’t place a value on how important it is to feel that you are needed. This keeps you living joyfully, gives you a reason to get out of bed each day, and it gives you some structure in your life which keeps you grounded.
Pets also give us something to laugh at. Nothing is cuter than a kitten making a game out of hiding in your shoes. These light-hearted moments add years to your life by lowering stress and blood pressure.
Those with therapy animals and service animals know the value of having an animal who is there for you with loyalty and love, who will never judge you.
Dawn Greer is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.