How Pets Help Us Heal

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On ‘National Pet Day’ today, as you’re acknowledging those furry family members of yours, consider something amazing—pets can actually help us heal.

It’s not a coincidence your pet makes you feel happier, research actually proves that animals can improve our mood and even make us healthier. This notion refers to something called pet therapy, and it’s why animals are being used more in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, schools and even mental health facilities.

There has been amazing research on the benefits of pet therapy, like this study that showed that heart attack patients who owned pets lived longer than those who didn’t. Or this research that found animal bonding or stroking a pet actually reduced blood pressure.

And even better, some of the latest studies show that interactions with animals can release oxytocin in our bodies, and we already know how amazing that hormone is.

The experiment found that women and their dogs experienced similar increases in oxytocin levels after ten minutes of friendly contact. Also the women’s oxytocin response was significantly correlated to the quality of the bond they reported in a survey taken prior to the interacting with their pets. [Psychology Today]

Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body’s ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells, so it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier. — Rebecca Johnson, Research Center for Human/Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine

It’s amazing that there is now some evidence to back up what we already know about our pets, that they make us feel better. But even aside from common animals you may have as pets, like cats or dogs, animals like horses or even fish are being used in pet therapy practices as well. You’ve probably heard about equine therapy before, which is the therapeutic practice of having horses interact with humans.

Whatever animal is bringing you therapeutic benefits, you can feel good about it because as much as you’re getting from your pet, they are also benefitting from the interactions.

So today and every day, fill up on love from your pets, it’s helping you more than you know. Do you want to add to this conversation? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, we’d love to hear from you.

— Written by Amber Craig

 

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