Anyone who has ever owned a pet can easily understand how beneficial an animal can be to our own sense of health and well being. Having a furry friend look up at you in hopes of a scratch behind their ears or a rub on their tummies can elicit a flood of oxytocin – the feel good hormone. This in turn produces a calming effect, which has been scientifically proven to improve cardiovascular health and reduce blood pressure.
Pet therapy has gained recognition in healthcare; many retirement, nursing homes and hospices have recognized the advantages of having animals in residence to lift spirits, decrease depression, loneliness and anxiety. Spending time with an animal encourages a bond that benefits both people and animals.
Dogs specially trained for service are active in areas of trauma treatment and disabilities. The benefit of pet therapy is also evident in children with behavioural issues and learning disabilities.
Probably the greatest benefit of spending time with animals is the social connection that is established. Everyone loves to feel loved, and animals often do that better than humans do. The feeling of being loved unconditionally can be soothing to the soul and maximize healing.
Because of all of these benefits, pets have a way of increasing our resilience to stress, can make life a little brighter and provide a sense of purpose.