A Pet A Day Keeps Your Doctor Away

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Looking for fast relief from anxiety, depression, or stress? But at the same time, got tired of those anti-depressant pills and medications? If you adopt one of those furry friends, it would surely be the fastest cure to your illness, that too, without visiting the boring chambers of your doc. No need to believe us.

Recent studies have also shown that pets are great facilitators of getting to know people, strengthening the bond of friendship, and even a significant source of social support networks. Besides, prolonged studies over the years also prove that there is a unique bond between a pet and its owner that establishes a steady and secure mental connection.

Nowadays, keeping pets is not just a show-off but a necessity for many households. Pets are commonly said to be the most loyal friend of a man, and the companionship that a pet offers is a great way to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. Moreover, pets can be a great source of camaraderie and motivation for their owners, be it people of any age group. Ninety-five percent of pet owners treat their pets as their child and plans out things to make them feel special, just like a baby at home. This is certainly natural and a fact as people of all ages find joy in pets. Therefore, pets and mental health undoubtedly go hand in hand.

A dog is most likely called a man’s best friend as it has the capability of understanding each mood swing and, thus, tends to offer great support and acts as a stress buster. Dogs can skillfully sense depression, and studies reveal many cases where a dog’s affection has rescued the owner from taking an extreme step like suicide and helped him to get back to a healthy life. It is very commonly seen for a lonely man or a small family to adopt a pet in this busy generation, and believe us, the primary intention of the owners is to succumb to loneliness and depression.

In many ways, pets can help us to live a mentally healthier and happier life. The Human-Animal Bond Research Institute(HABRI) is striving to increase human knowledge on the health benefits of pets. Over the past four years, HABRI has completed around two millions of research projects, all aimed at probing into the health benefits of human-animal interaction in three broad categories-

  • child health and development
  • healthy aging
  • mental health and wellness

Studies of few renowned scientists

While speaking about HABRI, it is essential to mention the name of Steven Feldman, who is the executive director of this famous institute and plays a vital role in exploring the importance of companion animals in the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities.

The very first research on pets and mental health was conducted by psychologist Alan Beck of Purdue University and psychiatrist Aaron Katcher of the University of Pennsylvania. They, in their study, found a magical result in the health improvements of people who owned a dog. Strangely, people who adopted a friendly dog observed lowering of blood pressure and heart rate, regular and stable breathing, and relaxation of muscle tension.

Since the 1990s, few teen mental health programs have also been incorporated to study the change in teen emotions by the companionship of some animals. One such program is Equine Assisted Therapy that actively involves horses in mental health treatment. Strangely, the human-horse connection or bonding encouraged the teenagers to address certain emotions and psychological issues, which was done through a powerful and direct experience of nonverbal communication.

How do pets contribute to our health benefits

  • Adopting a pet, taking care of it, and spending quality time with your adorable buddy can help you in your health improvements in ample ways. Animals reduce stress-related hormones, and you will be surprised to know that this benefit can be observed just five minutes after interacting with a friendly pet. Playing with a dog or cat heightens our levels of serotonin and dopamine that are already present in our body. These are hormones that stimulate and calm our nervous system. When we feel happy or smile at our pet’s funny behavior, it helps in the stimulation of release of the happy hormones that remain excited due to the affectionate tone of our pets. So, smiling with these angles is so much easier.
  • Interacting with your dog may seem funny or childish to others. But you will be relieved to know that this is doing a lot of benefits to your health, both mental and physical. Conversing with your dog can tend to reduce the level of cortisol, which is commonly known as the stress hormone. It, in turn, increases the release of oxytocin chemical and naturally leads to the reduction of stress. From now on, limit your frowns if your child loves to stroke the pets at home, a little more than usual. Studies have revealed that the sensory act of stroking a pet lowers blood pressure and also calms hyperactive and aggressive children. Thus, children who grow up with pets have a better chance of staying happy and healthy with a secured ambiance.
  • With an animal at home, patients suffering from life-risking illnesses, Alzheimer’s are thought to have fewer anxious outbursts.
  • You will naturally maintain a healthy and fit life if you are the parent to the cute furry babies because taking them out for walks, taking care of them, and training them is no less than a beautiful exercise that helps you to stay active at the same time. So say goodbye to lethargy with your canine buddies.
  • Strangely, children affected by autism often find it comfortable to work with animals because dogs and horses have both been used to stimulate sensory integration activities.

So it is not always necessary to seek the help of psychologists or medicines if you are battling a specific illness related to your mental health or physical. Adopting a pet can help you to develop into a completely new individual with much happier traits as well as provide the former with a loving family too.