It only makes sense, and scientific studies confirm it; that our furry friends (and even those that aren’t so furry) increase our happiness. Pets are so much more than that; they’re our best friends and family members.
We’ve all heard stories of a “hero dog” that saved a life, of dogs that preform acts of service and courage on a daily bases helping their humans companions with physical challenges. It’s not just dogs, human interest stories are shared across the media about animals that have done amazing things to save someone.
For most of us it’s not their hero qualities but their unconditional love that brings so much happiness.
How many children had their first lessons about care giving and responsibility because of their first pet?
Our animal friends ease loneliness, reduce stress, promote social interaction, encourage exercise and playfulness.
Recent studies on the positive effect of animal companionship show that the physical and mental health benefits reach beyond simple companionship or even their “hero” qualities.
J. Segal, Ph.D. of Helpguide.org noted that research indicated, “That pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.”
People with animal companions have a reduced incidences of heart disease and heal more quickly after surgery.
Kristen Houghton, writing in the Huffington Post, mentioned how the American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians explained that the bond that we have with our pets is “a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship. The touching of our pets and the closeness of the relationship with them is spiritual.”
Besides lowering blood pressure there are a number of other health benefits for pet owners including increased levels of the happy chemicals, serotonin and dopamine, in the brain which helps contribute to reduce levels of anxiety. Also, many people have a hard time maintaining an exercise regimen but are more likely to go for a walk with their animals.
In case of traumatic life events the warmth and unconditional love of our furry companions can dramatically reduce suffering and pain.
This effect is so powerful that even “simulated” animal companions can reduce suffering, as was the case for residents of an aged care facility in Australia.
In the program the residents “played” with realistic robotic “harp seals” called PARO, and, “Using clinical dementia measurements the researchers determined what impact PARO had on the participants in terms of anxiety, depression, and overall quality of life.” (See video below)
The results revealed that PARO had a significantly positive influence on quality of life and reduced any signs of anxiety.”
The numbers tell it all; people who have pets in their homes are happier, less stressed, live longer and weigh less than those who don’t.
Our animal friends influence our lives for the better.
We don’t need a study to tell us what we know is true in our hearts, that the creatures we share our lives with, whom accept us for who we are, love us unconditionally.
Our animal companions are the very definition of unconditional love and because they are we experience the all benefits and joy of unconditional happiness!