Nowadays you often hear the words pets and mental health in the same sentence and here’s why …
Pets and Mental Health
We all know eating well and exercise are good for our mental health. But, did you know our furry friends could be good for our mental wellbeing too? New research has revealed just how good pets are for us, and the data is surprising.
Pets Lower Our Blood Pressure
We love cuddles with our animal companions, and studies have found there’s a good reason for it. Petting dogs, cats, rabbits and even turtles release all of the feel-good hormones (serotonin, oxytocin and prolactin). Just petting your dog for 15 minutes a day can lower your blood pressure by a whopping 10%.
The Fish Fix
Researchers at an Alzheimer’s nursing home installed an aquarium to see the benefits of animal-assisted therapy on Alzheimer’s. They found that the patients didn’t pace as much, leading to a better nutritional intake. Within a month of the aquarium being installed, most of the group gained weight and only 8 out of 62 participants showed no improvement in nutrition.
We spoke to Jacquelyn, whose father has recently been diagnosed with dementia. She said her dog, Onslow, has been a tremendous help during this tough time. Even when her father falls out of bed, Onslow, amazingly “barks and sits on the floor next to him and waits until I get there.”
Our four-legged friends can even help those suffering from PTSD. The Department of Defence in Bethesda, Maryland found a massive decrease in symptoms of stress, depression, and pain medication – all from introducing therapy dogs to soldiers with PTSD.
One British veteran commented “I’d be dead” without his dog. Craig Maclellan decided to bring his dog on a charity stress course for ex-members of the armed forces. They noticed that his dog would comfort those who were most in need at that time, either they were more anxious or more emotional. MacLellan said, “she was an emotional sponge for the six weeks we were there, not just for me but for everyone else around her.”
Their Fur is Good for Us
Scientists in Germany have discovered pet hair and dust makes us less prone to anxiety and depression. The researchers recruited a group of men, half had grown up in the presence of animals and the other half were raised in cities with no animals. They asked both groups to solve a tricky maths problem and perform a public speech. They measured the males’ blood before and after, discovering that those we grew up with no animals had increased levels of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (white blood cells) – an immune response to stress. Indicating they were more stressed and more likely to develop anxiety and depression. So next time you’re covered in pet hair, you may want to consider yourself lucky.
Top Dog Breeds That Help With Depression
Top Cat Breeds That Help With Depression
- Maine Coon
We always knew we loved our pets for more reasons than one. But, now the research is clear. Our animal companions are truly special. Find out other ways pets make us happier.
Research from tombola, 2018.