Research has shown that interacting with a pet, whether furry or not, is good for your heart, your stress level and your health in general. In fact, this research goes so far as to indicate people who have pets are more likely to survive heart disease.
Having a pet in our lives gives us a sense of purpose and of unconditional love and acceptance. Who doesn’t occasionally drag themselves in the door after a challenging or frankly awful day out in the world to be greeted by (in my case) your dog? To her, I am the best thing since sliced bread, and not just because I’m about to feed her. To her, it doesn’t matter that I dropped a ball or two at work or that I was in a bad mood. I’m the best, and she lets me know it.
When we stroke our dog or cat’s fur, it lowers our blood pressure and gives us a sense of calmness and well being. If we are impatient with them (and we should never be, but we are humans…), they are forgiving, and they don’t hold grudges.
Petting your dog or cat can affect the level of several chemicals in our bodies and benefit us greatly! Cortisol, a chemical which is released by stress and is very damaging to our health, can be reduced; dopamine, which helps us feel happier can be increased; immunoglobulin A which bolsters the immune system can be increased.
Amazing though it is, we humans think we care for our pets and we do, but they give back in ways we are still learning about.
The next time you are having a bad day, do something good for your health! Give yourself a break…stop, take a few slow, deep breaths and pet your dog or cat!