I recently got a new dog, a gorgeous golden maltipoo named Cake. It has been such a joy to have in my life so I felt inspired to research the healing power of animals.
Anyone with a pet would agree that animals have healing powers. They fill your home with love, they bring families together and studies have also shown that they can improve your health.
As Florence Nightingale stated back in the 1860’s- “a small pet is often an excellent companion for the sick, for long chronic diseases especially.”
Today, we still know this to be true and science is still testing out the different healing benefits that having an animal can provide.
One study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that men who suffered from heart attacks were more likely to survive if they owned a dog. Another study found that having a pet can lower your blood pressure in just six months.
Research is also being conducted into the healing potential of a cats purr. Many believe that the vibrations created by a cat purring can be therapeutic for disease and can help reduce muscular aches and pains and even inflammation.
Animals have also long been used in hospitals as part of therapy programs for those recovering from severe illnesses.
What Makes Animals So Healing?
Most animals are non-judgemental and seek to create a bond with humans despite external influences or personality. It is this unconditional connection and bond between animal and human that creates a sense of comfort. Researchers call it, “contact comfort” and claim that these unconditional bonds can help reduce the heart rate and stress and induce relaxation.
How Can You Use Animals to Heal?
1.) Talk to Your Pet: this allows you to get problems off your chest without fear of judgement. Studies have shown that speaking to your pet can help you feel understood, comforted and secure.
2.) Stroke Your Pet: the act of stroking has been scientifically proven to help reduce stress and kick start the immune system. A study published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease found that the act of touch can help reduce blood pressure, anxiety and stress.
3.) Play With Your Pet: Those who interact with animals receive a boost in the hormone oxytocin, which is responsible for promoting love and trust within relationships. Having a pet can also allow you to be more loving and trusting in your personal life.
4.) Treat Your Pet as Family: According to one study, people who treat their pets as family members and establish a deep emotional bond receive more health benefits than those who don’t. From throwing your pet a birthday party, to cooking for them or playing with them, treating them as a member of your family helps to create social support.
5.) Exercise With Your Pet: Having a companion to join you on long walks can increase your motivation to exercise and keep you fit! We all know how good exercising is, and having a furry friend can definitely make it easier.
Of course, the best and only way to receive healing from your pet is to love them unconditionally in return and to do all you can to ensure that they are happy, safe, healthy and loved.
There is so much animals can teach us. How has your pet enriched your life?