For many of us our best friend is a dog, a cat, maybe even a horse. We know that pets make us happy, but more and more scientific studies are showing that our pets actually make us healthy.
Animals are used more and more in setting such as hospitals to nursing homes, schools, jails and mental institutions. The use of animals in medical setting actually started as far back as 150 years ago when Florence Nightingale recognized that animals provided a level of social support for the mentally ill.
Interacting with animals can increase people’s level of the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin effects the body’s ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also grow new cells, so it makes an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier.
So, what does this all mean for you and me? It turns out that pets actually help prolong your life. They lower our stress levels, decrease blood pressure, benefit our cholesterol, improve our mood , and boost our immunity which all adds up to lengthening our living years!
If you have ever owned a dog, you know that they can also motivate you to move. Nothing is more motivational when you dog is begging for you to let him outside. People with dogs exercise more consistently than dog-free people and the benefits to your health are many! The walking will benefit your heart and a daily dose of sunshine every day helps boost your mood and supplies you with vitamin D. And if you read any of my previous blogs you know the many benefits of just being outside are many.
In my previous blog I gave some really great tips on how to minimize the effect of depression. For helping depression animals are amazing. Here is why:
They give unconditional Love.
Your dog or cat doesn’t care if you took out the trash or scrubbed the bathtub. They love you no matter what. The minute you walk through the door they are excited to see you and not just when they are in a good mood. We are talking every single day. Who doesn’t need that kind of love?
Pets make us laugh
If you have had a pet you know how silly they can be sometimes. They can get into situations that are unbelievable and they look at the things in their environment completely different than we do. Ever had your dog chase a butterfly? Or your cat spend hours trying to get a toy out from under the couch? Watching an animal you are bound to finding yourself laughing several times during the day.
Pets give us a reason to keep going
Maybe your life isn’t going so great, and you would just rather spend the day in bed. Unfortunately you pet has other ideas. They never fail to tell you when they are hungry or want some attention. It is pretty impossible to stay in bed all day when your dog is hungry or needs to be let out to relieve himself. Still want to stay in bed? Your pet will almost always gladly lay by your side until you feel better.
Don’t have a pet? Think about volunteering at an animal shelter. Many of the shelters need volunteers to not only clean up but also give the animals some attention and love as they wait for their forever homes. You may even be lucky and find your BFF (Best Friend Forever)!
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