Where would we be this “month of love” without talking about our pets? Pets give us unconditional love which just FEELS good! If you have a pet – or ever had a pet – you know this is true. Those wagging tails when we come in the door or the “nose nudges” against us while we are sitting watching television, or those cuddles as we nap on a rainy day, demonstrates the bonds of unique love that can exist between a pet-owner and his or her beloved friend. I have more cats than I care to admit, and I have to say that they are often day-brighteners for me and give me unconditional furry-friend love.
Did you know that pets also offer us health benefits as well? Petting an animal can lead to lower blood pressure and can relieve stress. And it goes both ways. Human touch can have therapeutic effects for our pets, especially if they are feeling sick, stressed, or just not themselves.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bonds that exist between people and their pets can improve fitness levels, reduce stress, and bring happiness to their owners. Health benefits include:
Lower Blood Pressure
Decreased cholesterol levels
Decreased feelings of loneliness
Increased opportunities for outdoor activities and exercise
Increased opportunities to socialize
Some animals even serve a special purpose as companion animals. These animals provide support and companionship to the sick or elderly, or to those who have anxiety disorders, depression, or other special needs.
The National Institutes of Health is conducting research in a variety of areas to find out the range of pets people live with and how their relationships with their pets relate to health. One study showed that caring for fish helped teens with diabetes better manage their disease. Another showed that children with autism spectrum disorder were calmer while playing with guinea pigs in the classroom. It will be interesting to see what researchers learn about the health and social benefits of owning a pet.
So, if you have a pet, go love on them! That is if they are already not loving on you first! Here’s to a happy healthier you this February and always.