Yes, pets benefit our health – and this has long been proven by science. Their very existence certainly makes us happier, but also prolongs life. Studies confirm that pets help us in many ways – from increasing immunity to reducing stress. They can even identify diseases using their sensitive sense of smell. What are the specific benefits of pets? We will get acquainted with several interesting facts from scientists.
- Animals reduce stress and anxiety.
Are you experiencing stress? Doctors may advise you to get a pet. Interaction with animals raises the level of the hormone oxytocin, which reduces the level of another hormone that causes stress – cortisol.
Communication with animals has a particularly great effect on young children. Children who have pets in their family experience less stress, anxiety, and social problems, which reduces the likelihood of developing mental, emotional and behavioral disorders in adulthood.
- Pets can identify our diseases.
Animals with increased sense of smell can detect the smallest changes in the human body. Dogs and cats, sensing a problem, warn their owners – their behavior near you is changing dramatically. Most often, animals can feel diseases such as cancer, narcolepsy, migraine, diabetes, and cramps. Dogs are especially sensitive to diseases, identifying them with a high level of accuracy. For example, there are cases where dogs have experienced breast cancer with 88 percent accuracy and lung cancer with 99 percent accuracy.
- Communication with animals heals.
Animal therapy is used in many hospitals, nursing homes, schools, hospices. At the American drug treatment center Promises, patients are encouraged to interact with pets. And not just like that – after all, fluffies help to recover faster, raising the mood.
There is a special program for the elderly and veterans for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder – they are trained in the training of service dogs, Labradors and Golden Retriever.
- Animals help reduce blood pressure and strengthen the heart.
Cardiologists confirm that dogs can lower blood pressure and enhance the owners’ heart health. In a study of people with high blood pressure, those participants who started dogs experienced a marked decrease in blood pressure levels due to frequent communication with the pet. Studies have shown similar results for cat owners.
- Thanks to pets, we become more active.
People who have pets have more physical activity. This applies to walks and games, swimming, cleaning. Dog owners, of course, are more active in this regard, but no one has canceled active games with cats! According to statistics, dog owners are 54 percent more likely to perform recommended physical exercises.
- Animals reduce the risk of disease.
Keeping a dog or cat can reduce the risk of developing diseases such as cancer, allergies, or heart disease. Scientists from the University of California at San Francisco and Stanford University have found that pets increase immunity by protecting humans from certain forms of cancer.
Pets can also help prevent allergies. Marty Becker, an American veterinary consultant, explains: “Children who grew up on farms surrounded by animals are not allergic. Animal hair is like natural immunotherapy for them.”
- Pets foster our “social sharing”
Whether you are sitting in the park with a dog or talking with the store owner about the best brand of cat food – pets give you the opportunity to chat with new people. Nadine Caslow, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University in Atlanta, believes pets are helpful in combating mental traits such as social exclusion and excessive shyness. “Even when you are asked about the dog’s breed or its behavior, the conversation may remain at the” dog level “, but sometimes it becomes a real social exchange,” says the professor.