It’s well-known (and scientifically proven) that interaction with a gentle, friendly pet has significant benefits.
Pets make humans feel good; anyone who’s ever stroked a dog’s fur or felt a cat’s thrumming purr knows this. Science tells us how and why pets can be therapeutic. Just 15 minutes bonding with an animal sets off a chemical chain reaction in the brain, lowering levels of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol and increasing production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. The result: heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels immediately drop. Over the long term, pet and human interactions can lower cholesterol levels, fight depression and may even help protect against heart disease and stroke. This is why pets for the elderly can be so beneficial.
Some of the benefits of pet therapy are:
- lowers blood pressure
- improves cardiovascular health
- releases endorphins (oxytocin) that have a calming effect
- diminishes overall physical pain
- the act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response, reducing the amount of medication some folks need
- lifts spirits and lessens depression
- decreases feelings of isolation and alienation
- encourages communcation
- provides comfort
- increases socialization
- reduces boredom
- lowers anxiety
- reduces loneliness