February 20th is Love Your Pet Day – a special day to show even more appreciation and affection for all your furry friends, no matter if they’re dogs, cats, hamsters or guinea pigs. Although the Good Dog Hotel & Spa team is a little partial to dogs, we know how much love animals of all kinds bring to their humans. They bring lots of health benefits too.
According to the National Center for Health Research (NCHR), the companionship that animals provide have a positive impact on physical health and emotional development. In addition to seeing-eye dogs and dogs that can be trained to detect seizures, animals can also be used in occupational therapy, speech therapy, or physical rehabilitation to help patients recover.
Take a look below at NCHR’s list of positive ways our animals impact human lives. And from our family to yours, have a great Love Your Pet Day – now and throughout the year.
The Benefits of Pets for Human Health
Over 71 million American households (62%) have a pet, and most people think of their pets as members of the family. Some research studies have found that people who have a pet have healthier hearts, stay home sick less often, make fewer visits to the doctor, get more exercise, and are less depressed. Pets may also have a significant impact on allergies, asthma, social support, and social interactions with other people.
- Companion animals may improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and regulating the heart rate during stressful situations.
- Having a dog or cat lowers the risk of heart disease, as well as lowering stress.
- Having your dog in the room lowered blood pressure better than taking a popular type of blood pressure medication (ACE inhibitor) when under stress.
- The simple act of stroking a pet can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Children’s exposure to companion animals may ease anxiety.
- Findings suggest that the social support a pet provides can make a person feel more relaxed and decrease stress.
- The social support provided by a pet might also encourage more social interactions with people, reducing feelings of isolation or loneliness.
- Among elderly people, pet ownership might also be an important source of social support that enhances well-being.
- Studies have shown people with pets have fewer doctor visits, take fewer days off sick from work, and exercise more often than non-dog owners.
- One study found that dog ownership was associated with lower rates of depression among women, but not men, and among single individuals but not married people. So, while pet ownership might have a positive impact on well-being for some people, it doesn’t affect everyone the same way.
- When a child has no brothers or sisters, research shows that pets help children develop greater empathy, higher self-esteem, and increased participation in social and physical activities.
- Interacting with a therapy dog reduces levels of pain and anxiety among hospitalized children and adults, as well as increases focus and interaction among children with autism and other developmental disorders.
- In nursing home settings, interaction with visiting dogs has led to more social behaviors, more interaction among residents, and less loneliness.
What Is Your Story?
What benefits have you or your family enjoyed from your pets? We’d love to hear your story – please share your story below.