I love my dog. I’m no different than most other people who also love animals, especially their pets. According to a Gallop Poll, sixty percent of Americans have a pet. Most of those who have a companion animal have a dog. There is a reason dogs are considered to be “man’s best friend.” They help us in all sorts of areas of life, not the least of which is loving us unconditionally. Companion animals are used in animal assisted therapies and in less formal settings for feel-good interactions. Pets have a tremendous healing value.
Here are three ways that companion animals improve health outcomes for those who seek treatment:
Physical Health – Petting an animal such as a dog or cat can immediately lower blood pressure and longer-term, improve cardiovascular health. Studies suggest that physical pain is lessened among those who interact with a dog or cat. Sitting with and petting an animal creates a relaxation response in our bodies and the release of endorphins in the brain can calm us.
Mental Health – One of the reasons that pet therapies are so popular is their effect on human mental health. Interacting with an animal helps lessen loneliness and eases depression symptoms. Anxiety levels are reduced along with feelings of alienation or isolation.
Spiritual Health – Connection is what life’s about. People simply feel more connected and happier when they’re with animals. This is probably because we are animals ourselves and to be with others that love us completely, just as we are, is part of the connection that all people crave.
If you don’t have a companion animal, think about getting one. Consider a rescue animal. Animals are a tremendous commitment of time, energy and resources, but the payback is well worth it.