On his website is one of the many articles on the health benefits of pet ownership, Dr. Andrew Weil says that bonding with your pet is one of the 10 steps to having a better life. “ Studies have shown that pet owners, particularly the elderly, have lower blood pressure, are less likely to be depressed and have higher self-esteem than people who don’t have pets, “says Dr. Weil, adding that, “Among the more tangible rewards: A 1999 study in New York, Missouri and Texas found that medication costs dropped in nursing homes that allowed pets. In another study, 70 percent of the families surveyed reported an increase in happiness and fun as a result of acquiring a pet. In 2000, the American Heart Association’s study of stockbrokers found that those who had the companionship of a dog or cat experienced a calming of the “stress response” that can contribute to high blood pressure. After learning the results of the study, many of the pet-less stockbrokers decided to invest in a pet of their own.”
In a nutshell, pets:
- Give us a sense of connectedness, purpose and responsibility, no matter what our age.
- Boost our moods: They make us smile and laugh, which protects the heart, relaxes and calms us, and releases those natural feel-good substances, endorphins.
- Give us a hefty boost of the “love hormone” oxytocin. Just looking at them can give us a dose of that stress-relieving hormone, making us bond even more. If you question the power of oxytocin, it’s been associated with pain relief to acting as an antidepressant.
- Make us exercise and play.
- Pets are great listeners, and they’re a captive audience. According to the American Humane Society, almost 50% of pet owners say they they sometimes talk to their pet—and 80% of those people claims the animal responds with sounds, facial expressions, or body language.
We’d love to hear, so please tell us how you bond with your cat, dog, horse or other pet.
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