We’ve always known that a dog is man’s best friend. But what if our pets are actually making us physically and mentally healthier? When it comes to pet ownership, there are numerous proven health benefits—including physical, mental and emotional improvements—from enhancing social skills to decreasing an individual's risk of a heart attack. The mere presence of our beloved pets can lift our spirits. Here are just a few ways your family pet can increase your wellness:
A couple studies have found that cuddling a pet discharges the neuropeptide oxytocin, also alluded to as the “cuddle hormone”. The release of this chemical improves your sensory system's parasympathetic reaction, which in turn boosts your gland and intestinal functions and moderates your heart rate.
Having pets around is an excellent reducer of stress, increasing feelings of satisfaction and leisure. Pets are the best therapy for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and studies have shown that pet-owners perform better in the workplace compared to those who don’t have a pet.
Reduced Risk of Eczema
The notion that keeps hovering in the minds of parents is that pets pose a threat of spreading diseases in addition to allergies and eczema, but pets can actually function as a barrier against allergens. Research has proven that infants who are surrounded by pets are less likely to be exposed to any allergies or eczema.
Pets can sense cancer
You may be surprised to hear that your family pet can actually detect that a family member has cancer, but several pieces of evidence have backed the fact that dogs can sniff out cancer areas and help women overcome breast cancer. Not only can they detect cancer, but they can also help overcome lung, bladder, ovary, and colon cancer. Your dog can serve as a social support system which can help an individual with cancer have a more successful and quicker recovery.
Pets play an important role in the personal development of children. Children that are raised with pets are more likely to become fostering and compassionate adults, and also develop a greater capacity to share, be thoughtful, develop self-confidence and develop a higher level of cognitive growth.
Pets serve as a great catalyst to boost mobility, interpersonal contact and social rapport. Therapy dogs can help you recover from a deadly illness and support your physical well-being, and pet owners are known to experience less anxiety and feelings of loneliness. Dog owners have also shown to have increased social interaction when they take out their dogs for a walk.
Source of Security
Pets function as a great source of security for both adults and children experiencing depression, anxiety or other forms of emotional trauma. Pets can help individuals to curb anxiety and depression by providing companionship and inciting feelings of laughter and joy.
In conclusion, if you have a pet, make use of the support and positive impact they can offer you! And if you don’t own a pet, you might consider playing with a friend's or getting one of your own! While the benefits of having an animal companion are still being explored, animals have already been integrated into different therapies and have proven positive results for your wellbeing.
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Abena is a Client Services Associate at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc in Global Health. She is passionate about human rights and health education, and hopes to develop tailored interventions to combat health inequities around the globe. Her interests include story writing, camping and exploring different cultures on her travels.