The healing power of pets
Studies show that pets can provide several benefits to their human companions, both physically and psychologically. Here are some of the ways having a furry friend can truly heal you.
Our connections to our pets can help heal our bodies
Owning a pet might be associated with lowering the risk of heart disease, according to a statement in the journal Circulation from the American Heart Association. Studies also show that dog owners engage in more physical activity than non-dog owners—thus improving cardiac health and reducing stress. Dogs who require more regular physical activity have been shown to reduce sedentary habits in their owners.
Our connections to our pets can help heal our emotions
It is wonderful that we are capable of having deep, meaningful relationships with our pets. Not only are they there for us when we are happy, but when we are struggling with emotional problems, our pets can also act as an additional source of support.
A recent study on treatment-resistant depression examined the effect of pet ownership on symptoms of depression. The study compared 33 depressed participants who accepted a suggestion to adopt a pet with 33 depressed participants who did not. When the researchers followed up, they found that those who adopted pets scored better on measures of depression and had higher rates of response to treatment and remission than the non-pet owners.
Our connections to our pets can connect us to each other
A 2015 study analyzed residents in four cities who were surveyed by phone. Participants were asked about their pet ownership status and getting to know other people in their neighbourhood. The study found that pet owners were more likely to get to know people in their neighbourhood than non-pet owners, due to seeing and interacting with other pet owners and their pets.
Given the increasing reports of social isolation and the negative effects of loneliness on mental and physical health, socialization through pet ownership might be an important way of increasing social interaction.
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