If you live in one of Australia’s 5.9 million pet households, you already know how much affection, humor and joy animals can offer. What could be nicer than coming home after a stressful day than to the sloppy welcome of a tail-wagging woofie or cuddling up with a softly purring tomcat?
The unconditional love that pets offer their human companions not only makes us feel good, but is also physically beneficial. Numerous studies have shown that keeping pets – especially dogs and cats – can improve cardiovascular fitness, help control cholesterol and blood pressure, and reduce stress, loneliness, and depression.
Medicine is increasingly recognizing the connection between pets and humans as a powerful weapon in disease control and chronic disease management.Recognition:Stocksy
Even taking out other people’s pets can be good for you. For example, dog walkers can improve their general fitness and stamina through regular exercise and are perceived by others to be friendly and approachable.
The American veterinarian Marty Becker, author of The Healing Power of Pets, says that animals play a very important role in the functioning of our immune system. “Pets spend a lot of their time outside bringing all kinds of germs into the house, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” he says. “These germs strengthen our immunity and then prevent colds and other minor illnesses.”
But there is more. Just petting your dog or cat will reduce the physiological indicators of stress, including high blood pressure. “When you stroke your pet, which naturally happens when they’re sitting on your lap, positive biochemicals like oxytocin, prolactin and serotonin are released in a matter of seconds,” says Becker. “We now know that pets help reduce cardiovascular incidents and strokes. Both physically and emotionally, they are life-sustaining systems cleverly disguised as animals. “
Medicine is increasingly recognizing the connection between pets and humans as a powerful weapon in disease control and chronic disease management. In a survey, nearly three in four doctors said they would prescribe pets for the health of their patients.
Dirty cat people will be quick to tell you that their pet’s purr helps calm them down when they are feeling stressed or in pain. While we don’t know much about why cats purr, the frequency with which they purr – between 25 and 150 Hertz – can improve bone density and promote tissue regeneration.
Another study from the State University of New York found that people were less stressed performing a task with their pet than when a spouse, family member, or friend was nearby.