Pets and Their Healing Powers
In your lifetime, you must have heard at least once or twice people saying that animals are good for you, that they make your life better. Pet owners already know this because they are experiencing the joy and happiness brought by having a dog or a cat. So, let us see how exactly pets can improve our lives.
According to recent studies, individuals who come in contact with animals can experience increased levels of oxytocin. This is also known as the trust, love, or bonding hormone. There was even a study that revealed that even just making eye-contact with your dog can increase the level of oxytocin, especially for women.
When it comes to human interactions, oxytocin helps mothers bond with their newborn babies and couples achieve a greater sense of intimacy. Also, this hormone has been linked to enhanced feelings of optimism, trust, and self-esteem.
Moreover, some evidence was found that suggests that interactions with friendly animals can also decrease the levels of cortisol, which is the stress hormone, and increase the levels of dopamine.
That is why, in the past years, animals have been involved in more and more therapeutic interventions. You may have heard about hospitals that bring animals in, in order to cheer up, distract, and calm down patients.
Owning a pet has also been linked to several physical benefits like lower stress levels, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, a reduced risk for heart disease, as well as fewer visits to the doctor. Surely, we can refer back to the previously mentioned chemicals and hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine, and cortisol.
Oxytocin is now known to alleviate pain like cramps, headaches, as well as overall body aches. Furthermore, lower cortisol levels lead to lower stress levels and also contribute to several heart and blood pressure-related benefits.
Leslie Irvin, a Sociologist from the University of Colorado, conducted interviews with homeless people from Colorado, who had dogs, in 2013. She discovered that many of the people she talked to credited their animals with saving or changing their lives.
For example, one woman declared that her dog helped her leave an abusive relationship, quit heroin, as well as improve her HIV condition. Another man stated that his dog assisted him in combating depression and isolation by making him go out, walk, and also socialize with people.
Other interviewees said that their animals protected them from danger, saved them from attempting suicide, and made them feel happy and healthy. One thing is for sure, and that is that pet ownership reduces the feeling of isolation and loneliness. Pets manage to fulfill emotional needs such as the need for security, companionship, love, and comfort.
While taking care of a pet, the need to nurture is also fulfilled, as well as that of caring for another living thing, providing a sense of purpose. Including your pet in your list of strengths when having to cope and heal from grief is a battle half won. Of course, you do not have to be homeless to improve your social life.
Just by taking your dog for a daily walk, and going through the dog park, you inevitably meet with other pet owners, you exchange information, or you create meeting routines. And all of a sudden, you get to know and socialize with other people you might not have even met if not for your pet.
This is not one of those articles that tries to convince you to get a pet. We simply wanted to outline the benefits of having an animal in your life. People who are living alone can do a whole lot better with a pet by their side by eliminating the feeling of loneliness.
But what about families with children? There is already enough to do in such a family, is a pet really needed? No, it is not, but it would surely help. Kids have a lot of energy, and you do not always have time to play with them. A pet can help consume some of that energy while you attend to other important tasks.
Also, it makes a beautiful picture. Just imagine a family dinner, with everyone around the table, while your dog also enjoys a special salmon with sweet potato recipe.