Don’t underestimate the power of paws-or feathers or even fins-when it comes to your health. Increasing numbers of studies have shown that pet ownership can positively impact your health. Here’s how a pet can make you healthier:
The Simple act of stroking the soft fur of a dog, cat, rabbit, or guinea pig or a bird’s feathers can trigger the release of feel-good and stress-reducing hormones including serotonin, prolactin, dopamine, and cortisol. According to the American Heart Association, petting a dog or cat can lower blood pressure and pulse rate, and in some cases, has a positive impact on cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Even watching a fish swim (think of all those dentists’ offices with aquariums) can have a calming effect.
Purring is powerful. A cat’s purr vibrations are in the range of 20 to 140 Hz, a rate that has been deemed to be medically therapeutic in a variety of ways. A cat’s purring has the ability to heal infection and reduce swelling in addition to healing injured bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. It can also decrease symptoms of dyspnea, which is shortness of breath.
Pets provide companionship. Feeling kinship with an animal helps to alleviate loneliness and depression. Think of how a dog nudges your hand with its nose or a cat gently paws at you, seeking connection. Another way pets help combat depression is by making a person feel worthwhile. Having another living being that depends on you, in other words, having the responsibility of the well-being of another, makes your life feel valuable and gives it purpose.
Dogs can detect cancer. Some have even saved their owners’ lives. Dogs have an extremely sensitive sense of smell that allows them to detect the odor signatures created by the volatile organic compounds that cancers produce. For example, dogs, both trained and untrained, have detected lung and colorectal cancer from a person’s breath, ovarian cancer in blood, and prostate cancer in urine. Additionally, there are documented cases where dogs have alerted their owners to malignant melanomas.
If you’re thinking of bolstering your health with a pet, be sure to get one that fits your lifestyle. Dogs take more care than cats and other smaller pets. Check out your local animal shelter, pet store or animal rescue organizations online to find your pet today. In addition to dogs and cats, you can find birds, rabbits, other small animals and even livestock through animal rescue organizations.