The Benefits of Pets on Human Health – What’s What Wednesday
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center would like to discuss the several benefits that pets have on human health. It may be of no surprise to the animal-loving individuals out there that pets provide a type of companionship that is different than any other type of relationship we might have. Pets are found to not only decrease stress and increase relaxation, but they can also improve mental, emotional, and physical health. The better we understand the human-animal bond, the more we can use it to improve the overall health of humans.
Here are three areas where humans can benefit from a pet:
Impact on Mental Health: Studies have revealed that individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and PTSD report feeling an ontological security when taking in a pet. This means that there is a feeling of stability, continuity, and a meaning given to one’s life when it is shared with a pet. Several studies have shown that pets provide an invaluable support system for people with mental health conditions.
Impact on Physical Health: Studies have shown that pets can improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Not only do adults have the ability to benefit from pets, but children have also been studied as well. One study was done with children aged 3-6 and took place during two separate routine doctor appointments. When a pet was present, children had lower blood pressure measures, lower heart rates, and less behavioral stress versus the measures taken when a pet was not in the room.
Impact on Social Well-Being: Pets not only decrease loneliness and depression, but they can also promote socialization. It is not uncommon for a dog to lead us into striking up a conversation with a stranger. Taking your cat to the veterinarian encourages nurturing. Feeding the birds or watching a pet fish swim in the tank are all ways that offer the potential of slowing down the hectic pace of life. Pets overall encourage friendlier exchanges, enhance opportunities of interaction, and promote mindfulness.
Any pet that offers comfort and support can be looked at as a great benefit to one’s health. Regardless of the species, a pet can allow us to learn empathy, feel comfort and support, and help us live in the present moment which we so often forget how to do.