Prescribing Pets Not Pills
Posted by Angela Klein on 5/8/2008 in Articles from Newsletters
Heather from Health-bee.com, a blog she maintains about wellness for women, knows what it’s like to live with depression. Getting a dog helped, she said, brought her laughter and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. “I can honestly say that my dog is a big reason I am no longer depressed,” she said.
Recent studies have continued to show what Heather and others already know: pets are good for us. Looking at the multiple reasons why, it’s easy to see.
Pets get us up and moving. By walking our dogs or going to the store to buy food and treats for our cats, we’re doing more than just sitting. As the endorphins start to flow from our exercise, we feel better.
Having a pet means that we’re no longer alone, and even if we already live with others, the addition of a pet can still help tremendously. Anyone who has ever seen a dog look at its owner will understand the meaning of pure, unadulterated love. Pets look to us to meet their needs, be part of their pack, and thrive on the attention and affection we give. In return, they provide a love that asks for little and gives much.
A study several years ago at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom studied the physical and psychological health benefits of owning a pet and found that people who walk their dogs, in particular, are less prone to depression and loneliness, and have fewer problems with obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Dr. Jack Stephens, president and founder of Pets Best Insurance, has been preaching about the power of pets for years as he has seen person after person, including himself, helped by the love of a pet.
“More and more social and healthcare professions are seeing the value of pets in helping to keep us healthy and improving our health when we are ill, stressed or depressed,” Stephens said.
“The quiet interaction of petting a pet will lower your blood pressure, decrease your stress hormone and increase the levels of good hormones and neurotransmitters which will all help you feel better.”
Stephens goes on to add that spending time with our pets also increases our serotonin levels, which helps combat depression, and walking our pets helps us lose weight, keep it off and improves our overall sense of well-being.
Not only can walking a dog improve our moods and help us maintain our weight, the study by researchers at the University of Portsmouth also showed that we make more friends when we’re out walking our pets, which also eases loneliness and depression.
Giving us passion and purpose, providing a source of unconditional love and acceptance and getting us out and about – that’s what our pets do for us. So the next time you bend down to scratch your furry friends, remember to whisper an extra “thank you” for all they do without even knowing.