Pets Are Good For Your Health–Science Proves It

Studies prove that  people feel better after spending time with a friendly pet

When I’m having a rough day, missing departed loved ones, or feeling overwhelmed by tight deadlines, I pull out the best prescription for lifting mood and spirit–a couple well-used dog leashes that will take me and my pups for a romp in the woods. As a doctor, I’ve taken this discovery of the health-boosting power of our pets to the next level, sharing my dogs with hospital patients, elementary students struggling to read, college students cramming for finals, and seniors living in nursing homes. A day at the end of the therapy dog’s leash is all the proof I need to show me the healing power of wagging tails.

I may have been convinced by hours spent watching my dogs bringing smiles, good memories, and pain relief to others, but others might not be so readily convinced. Luckily, scientists have been studying the effects of spending time with a friendly pet in a number of experiments. Most studies have investigated the effects of short visits lasting about 10-15 minutes.  Here’s a summary of the results:

  • After spending about 10 minutes with a friendly pet, people report feeling calmer and happier. Tests measuring levels of stress hormones in their blood, like cortisol and oxytocin, show significant improvements in stress chemicals.
  • After spending about 10 minutes with a friendly pet, people report significant reductions in pain levels. Blood tests confirm this pain reduction is real, showing significant increases in endorphin levels, the body’s natural pain reliever.
  • Visits from friendly dogs reduce blood pressure and other markers of heart stress for people with heart disease. Studies also show more successful cardiac rehab for patients who live with a pet dog.

These results help show that people not only feel better after spending time with a friendly pet,  their body is actually healthier.

So when you look at that cute fluff ball snoozing under your chair and wonder what he’s done for you today, remember–wagging tails have healing power. Science proves it!

Related Posts

Leave a Comment