The Healing Powers of Pets: How Animals Can Improve Mental and Physical Well-Being
Pets at the house can make you feel more relaxed and less stressed. Pets can help boost your heart health and aid children’s emotional and social abilities.
A majority of households across the United States have a pet. What type of pet is ideal for your overall health? Scientists are trying to determine this by conducting studies of different kinds of pets, ranging from fish, Guinea pigs, dogs, and cats.
Pets provide a vast quantity of support for emotional well-being, friendship, and even practical benefits for their owners. Studies have proven that having pets helps relieve depression, stress, and anxiety while increasing mood and encouraging socialization. In the end, pets substantially positively affect your mental well-being.
It’s thought that animals make people feel more connected in ways human relationships can’t. Pets are unconditionally loved and provide acceptance without judgment, which we often struggle to find. They provide consistency, comfort, and physical affection that is free of the need to speak Pets can be effective instruments of healing.
Caring for animals has been shown to improve mental health too. The feeling of responsibility that comes from taking care of a living creature is believed to decrease anxiety levels, boost self-esteem and increase overall well-being. In addition, being around animals can reduce the production of cortisol, a hormone linked to stress–in the body.
Pets also encourage exercise that has many benefits, like increased exposure to sunlight which assists in controlling hormones associated with sleep patterns, and increasing serotonin levels, which can lead to better moods. Participating in outdoor activities like walking a dog and playing with cats outdoors can also allow people to get away from their electronic screens, which have been proven to trigger anxiety and depression symptoms when used for too long or frequently.
In addition, studies suggest that owning a pet can result in better heart health because of the higher levels of physical exercise associated with the pet’s ownership and lower levels of stress-related hormones, such as cortisol, that affect heart rate and decrease inflammation throughout your body. These factors create a space where mental and physical well-being can thrive, improving overall health!
Pet’s Are a Kid’s Best Friend?
Dogs may help children in school too. A study has found that dogs could help children who have ADHD concentrate their focus. Researchers placed two kids who were diagnosed with ADHD in 12-week groups of therapy. The first group was read to therapy dogs twice weekly for 30 mins. A second set of children read with puppets that appeared to be dogs.
Children reading to real animals demonstrated more excellent social skills and sharing, cooperation, and volunteering. They also had fewer difficulties with behavior.
Children may feel more relaxed when they’re around animals. In a study, children with autism spectrum disorders were more comfortable playing with guinea pigs inside the school. Children’s anxiety levels decreased When they spent just 10 minutes of group activity with guinea pigs. They also had more social interactions and were at ease with their friends. The research suggests that the animals provided unconditional love, which made them a peaceful comfort for children.
“Animals can become a way of building a bridge for those social interactions,” says Dr. James Griffin, a child development specialist at NIH. Researchers are working to understand the impact of animals on children and how they can aid.
A recent study revealed that feeding fish can help adolescents with diabetes better manage their diabetes. Researchers were able to have a group of teenagers who had type 1 diabetes tend to an aquarium fish twice a day, feeding it and observing the levels of water. The routine of care also included changing the tank’s water every week. This was in tandem with kids studying the blood glucose (blood sugar) logs with their parents. Researchers analyzed how often the teens monitored their blood glucose levels. In comparison, teens who were not provided with an aquarium to care for and fish-loving teens were more vigilant about examining their blood glucose amounts, which are crucial to maintaining their well-being.
Things to Consider
Although pets can provide health benefits, they’re not for all. Some studies suggest exposure to animals in the early years of life could assist in the prevention of children developing asthma or allergies. But for those who have allergies to specific species of animals, having pets at home could cause their allergies to worsen.
If you have an animal, you have new responsibilities, including knowing how to care for and feed your animal. It is essential to understand that the NIH (National Institutes for Health) and Mars Company fund studies examining the impact of human and animal interactions on both the animal and the individual.
Remember that animals may feel exhausted and stressed just as humans do. Children must be able to spot symptoms of stress within their pets and know when they should not engage in it. Animal bites can lead to severe damage. “Parents need to think about preventing dog bites, especially for young children who might not know when they’re being too rough with a dog,” says Dr. Layla Esposito, who manages the NIH’s Human-Animal Interaction Research Program. Researchers will continue to research the health implications of owning pets. “We want to know what’s working and what’s not working, and what’s safe for both humans and animals,” Esposito declares.