Most U.S. households contain at least one pet, and it’s a completely different world for pets than any other time in history. Today, 95% of pet owners consider their pets members of the family. We buy them gifts, include them in our wedding, dress them in clothing, and provide them with the best in nutrition and medical care.
Although most of us probably don’t expect anything in return for the love and care we shower on our pets, the rewards we receive from them include better health and a deeply rewarding bond. Science backs this up through numerous studies that show that the love of pets has the power to transform our bodies, minds, and hearts.
The Benefits Of Pet Therapy
Pet owners are already familiar with the warm and fuzzy feelings that arise from stroking, cuddling, and just being near a pet. Research has shown that these feelings can have powerful therapeutic effects on a variety of disorders and conditions, including:
- Depression – Petting an animal causes a release of endorphins (feel-good chemicals) that has been shown to have a positive impact on patients dealing with depression and anxiety. Caring for a pet also encourages patients to focus on something other than their own troubles, which can have significant health benefits.
- PTSD – It is widely known that animal therapy can help children and adults suffering from PTSD, and the science backs it up. Horses are among the most studied animals in relation to PTSD, and it’s been found that the mere act of brushing a horse, or leading it around a pen, has positive impacts for patients.
- Alzheimer’s and dementia – Several studies have exemplified the benefit dogs and other therapy animals can have on Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, including increased socialization, less depression, better appetites, and decreased restlessness and aggressive behaviors.
- Autism – The love of pets can do amazing things for children with autism. In one study, having a guinea pig in the classroom caused children with autism to smile more often, be more social with peers, and exhibit fewer signs of stress.
The Love of Pets Is Good for Our Health
Countless studies have been done on the health benefits of pet ownership. From these studies, it is widely known that pets lower our stress and increase opportunities for exercise and socialization.
According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), pets can have the following positive effects on us:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Decrease depression
- Decrease feelings of loneliness/isolation
At Union Lake Veterinary Hospital, we are witness to the transformative power of the love of pets every day. We are steadfast in our goal to provide the absolute best care for each pet who walks through our door. For more information, we welcome your questions!