Dogs and cats help us live happier and healthier lives. Just being around them can instantly make us feel better after a bad day.
Stress is the leading cause of many illnesses and something we all need to work on reducing in our lives. American Psychological Association states, “Chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. And more than 75 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.”
While meditation and yoga are helpful in reducing stress – the answer to reducing stress levels fast is your beloved dog or cat.
Research performed by Washington State University found college students who spent just 10 minutes petting a dog or cat had lower stress levels.
The study involved 249 students that were divided into four groups. The first group played with dogs and cats, while the rest either watched and waited or viewed a slideshow of the animals. The following morning researchers took salivary cortisol samples, which showed a much lower stress level in those who were able to pet and be around the dogs and cats.
Patricia Pendry, an associate professor in WSU’s Department of Human Development, said, “Just 10 minutes can have a significant impact. Students in our study that interacted with cats and dogs had a significant reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone.”
She went on to say, “We already knew that students enjoy interacting with animals, and that it helps them experience more positive emotions. What we wanted to learn was whether this exposure would help students reduce their stress in a less subjective way. And it did, which is exciting because the reduction of stress hormones may, over time, have significant benefits for physical and mental health.”
Although this research may not be surprising to those who own dogs and cats, it has helped create “Pet Your Stress Away” programs at various universities. It is a place for students to come and interact with dogs and cats to reduce stress and improve their moods.
More and more businesses are seeing the positive impact dogs and cats have and are allowing employees to bring their pets to work. They hope it will reduce stress, improve productivity and job satisfaction.
As studies continue to prove, dogs and cats make our lives whole. There are millions of dogs and cats in shelters around the country waiting to improve the lives of their adoptive families. Adopt don’t shop!
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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