Does interaction between humans and animals provide significant health benefits?

Many pet owners say that that their animals provide company, happiness, and other emotional fulfillment.

In addition to medical benefits, assisting with daily activities and working with us, animals can help us emotionally, psychologically, and socially. They help us:

Adjust to serious illness and death

Children often turn to their pet for comfort if a friend or family member dies or leaves the family. Grieving adults who did not have a close source of human support were also found to have less depression if they had a pet.

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Be less anxious and feel more safe

Pet owners tend to feel less afraid of being a victim of crime when walking with a dog or having a dog in the home.

Relax and reduce everyday stress

Pets can help us relax and focus our attention away from our problems and worries. We do not even need physical contact to appreciate this. Watching fish in an aquarium, or the activity of birds can be very soothing. Of course many of us with dogs and cats find ourselves absent-mindedly petting them, which is relaxing for both us and the pet.

Have physical contact

This ability to have something to touch and pet is very important. More and more studies show how important touch is to our physical and emotional health.

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Lift our mood

Woman in a wheelchair petting a GreyhoundPets decrease our feelings of loneliness and isolation by providing companionship to all generations. Certainly for residents of nursing homes this is true, but it is also true for the staff and volunteers there as well.

Residents of nursing homes are more apt to smile, talk, reach out to people and objects, be attentive and alert, and experience a greater sense of well-being and less depression if animals are present in the facility.

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