Pet Rx: The Health Benefits Of Furry Friends

Adding a pet to your household may also add lots of hairy messes, but the benefits can be priceless—especially for your heath.

Good effects

Modern scientific research has underscored that interacting with animals can have a variety of positive effects on human health, from reducing blood pressure to increasing the level of the feel-good hormone oxytocin in the brain. According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, interacting with a pet (your own or someone else’s) can lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels and combat loneliness, which may lead to depression.

In addition, having to walk a dog will lead you outside, increasing opportunities for exercise and socializing with other pet owners.

Therapeutic pets

One study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences found that a half-hour pet therapy session helped reduce loneliness among long-term care patients. And physical therapy patients have reported that the presence of an animal can help them feel less stress and pain and be less self-conscious about their rehabilitation process.