We want to celebrate the special bond between humans and pets by sharing the five most lovely (and surprising!) health benefits you get
from your pet.
1. Petting a dog or cat lowers your blood pressure — Studies have found that petting a furry companion results in a lowered blood pressure and heart rate! Even when compared to relaxing with a good book, having a snuggle with your pet on the couch was the top performer when it came to dropping blood pressure.
2. Your dog gives you an immune boost — In a study by Charnetski, Riggers and Brennan, petting a dog while relaxing was found to boost immune components that are associated with lower rates of illness! Just to make sure it was the dog (and not just the relaxation)
responsible for the immune boost, the study included a control group that relaxed on a couch without a dog for the same amount of time and a group of people assigned to pet a stuffed dog. The real dog was the best performer!
3. Petting an animal reduces anxiety — Researchers have found that petting an animal, especially a familiar animal, significantly reduces anxiety ratings and physiological signs of stress. In fact, many colleges and universities have started hosting pet therapy rooms during exam season to help stressed students find relief!
4. Social benefits abound — Social isolation is a huge health problem, but research has found that having a pet, particularly a pet you have to walk regularly, leads to more social encounters and greater feelings of wellness. For those that struggle to chat with
strangers, having a pet present provides a natural topic of conversation.
5. Pets encourage social and emotional learning in children — Connecting with an animal companion teaches children valuable lessons in compassion, empathy and respect for all living things. In the field of humane education, research has found positive benefits to teaching children kindness through animal interactions and discussions about non-companion animals (like endangered species). Our pets do a lot to keep us happy and healthy. Next time you share some quality time with your pet, don’t forget to thank them for all the great health benefits they bring to your life! Are you thinking about adding a pet to your home? Our adoption team at the shelter is happy to help you find a perfect furry (or not so furry) friend.
From the Calgary Humane Society blog: www.calgaryhumane.ca/blog. References for the research mentioned above can be found on the original blog post from March 7, 2017