Take a minute to hug your dog – I’m sure he kisses you every chance he gets.
Having a pet is a always a winning proposition. Some people will say they don’t have time to care for a pet, or they can’t afford the vet bills. However, the reality is that being a pet owner can only improve your life. Caring for a pet requires you to step outside yourself and love another being. A pet’s love for you is unconditional and ever so powerful. No matter how badly your day has gone, upon returning home, your awaiting pet will shower you with genuine, wholehearted affection. As a result, you become happier, healthier, and generally a better person.
In case you’re questioning my logic, let’s look at the anecdotal evidence-health benefits. Pet owners improve their health by interacting with their pets. Lowered blood pressure is one outcome of interaction with domesticated animals. Whether you are walking through a petting zoo or holding a furry family member, it’s just pleasant, relaxing, and peaceful to interact with a friendly animal.
Oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone,” is being studied to determine it’s role in social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors (Wikipedia). Oxytocin is a neuromodulator, meaning it is a horomone which remains in the cerebrospinal fluid for an extended period of time, thereby exerting a longer influence on overall brain activity.
Recent studies have shown that after interaction with their pets, individuals have higher levels of Oxytocin in their bloodstream than if they have not had such an interaction with their pet. This research moves science toward finding measurable effects of human-animal interaction.
It is known that pet owners are in better physical health than those without pets. Further, pet owners are more likely to survive serious heart attacks than those without a pet in the home. Anecdotes on the benefits of companion animals are quite compelling, and the professional community is finally noticing. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Devrlopment, part of the National Institute of Health, is examining whether service animals can tangibly benefit children’s well-being.
My Grandmother is a living testament to the fact that loving animals extends your life – both the quantity (length) and quality. Despite daily arthritis pain in many of her joints, she spends a significant portion of every day caring for/interacting with her dogs (English Bulldogs).
Pets teach us invaluable life lessons, such as, how to be happy, how to treat others well, and how to enjoy every moment. Why would anyone not want to learn to live these lessons? So, don’t forget – hug that pet!