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How Pets and Therapy Animals Can Improve Your Health

Pet Appreciation Day is coming up this June, where we humans set aside a day to join in celebration of our furry friends and all they do for us. So today we have a guest blogger to discuss more on how Managed Care Organizations, and their members, in particular, have many reasons to join in the festivities and be thankful for their furry companions.

Written by Cassandra Smalling

Pet Appreciation Day is coming up this June, where we humans set aside a day to join in celebration of our furry friends and all they do for us. So today we have a guest blogger to discuss more on how Managed Care Organizations, and their members, in particular, have many reasons to join in the festivities and be thankful for their furry companions.

How Animal Therapies And Pets Improve Recovery

56% of Americans feel they could use more support for dealing with stress, whether that stress is caused by everyday life or following an illness, accident or traumatic event. Animal therapies and pets can be a great source of support as research shows they cause physical changes in the body that not only lower stress levels, but also improve health and wellbeing.

Increased oxytocin levels

One of the ways animals provide support in therapies is that they increase oxytocin levels. Oxytocin helps to slow down the heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and prevent stress hormone production, making people feel calmer. This alone makes animal therapies great for people dealing with mental health problems, as well as those struggling with the stress and trauma following a physical illness or accident. This is backed up by research as one study by Rovner found that pet owners who had had a heart attack lived longer than those who didn’t have a pet, showing a link between animals and heart health, which is often affected by stress. Another study by Rovner also found that simply coaxing a pet can reduce blood pressure.

Animals help with mindfulness

Mindfulness is a technique that can benefit people dealing with stress and mental illness, such as trauma. People may focus on their illness or an accident that has changed their life. Mindfulness aims to get people living in the present and accept it for what it is. Mindfulness has proven to reduce stress levels and enhance overall health and wellbeing. Playing, cuddling, and just touching a pet or therapy animal can help people to practice mindfulness as it keeps them present and focused. Therefore, making sure pooches have a good supply of toys can encourage people to play with them and have more contact, resulting in a better outcome, as well as a happy dog.

Become more active

Following an injury or illness, it’s easy to become inactive, especially when resting was essential to recovery. Having a pet dog can help people to become active again as dogs need to go out for walks and run around at the park. Research from the Michigan State University found that 60% of dog owners met the federal criteria for regular moderate or vigorous exercise and nearly half exercised for an average of 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week, whereas just a third of the participants who didn’t have a dog completed the same amount of exercise.

Animal therapies are becoming more popular and widely used as research continues to prove the benefits. However, having a pet is beneficial too and allows a strong and continued bond between the animal and person.