Research has paved the way for many improvements in pet care: better resources to animal healthcare, more advanced veterinary clinic management, and a deeper understanding of our relationship with pets.
It’s remarkable how pets affect our mental health. For many, it has been therapeutic. Researchers speculate that oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone,” is responsible for the happiness and healing effect people feel when bonding with animals.
This healing power doesn’t stop with cats and dogs. It can be any type of animal – bird, fish, hamster, and even a horse – and each one triggers a different kind of reaction from their owner.
People who take care of birds at home begin their day with lively birdsong. The chorus that automatically starts at dawn stimulates a person’s cognitive functioning and boosts productivity by up to three times.
Likewise, birdsong relaxes and reassures us because we’re subconsciously aware that birds sing only when they feel safe. It proves that one way or another, nature connects with people. It explains why we feel a ; profound sense of calm just by listening to wild soundscapes or being around trees. ;
Dogs need to be walked and their regular game of fetch. Active dogs improve our physical activity by steering us away from a sedentary lifestyle. Some of them may not like to be hugged but their companionship and affectionate nature reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness that come with the lack of human social support.
In a University of Sydney study, researchers prove that people who own dogs tend to live longer than those who don’t. This is because being around dogs addresses a key aspect of human isolation and reduces the risks of developing physical and mental illnesses. ; But more importantly, as Professor Manos Stamatakis writes, “dogs could expand human emotional horizons.”
Although they aren’t as cuddly as most pets, fish can also take part in helping you feel better. Many people go fishing for the one-of-a-kind relaxation found in nature more than for the actual activity itself.
Recreating this environment at home induces stress reduction and emotional positivity. The sound of flowing water or gurgling bubbles in an aquarium is a soothing environmental stimulus for the mind.
Like dogs, humans have a lot to learn from horses. They appear enigmatic at a glance, but what they show on the outside is what they feel on the inside. Horses have walked with us for thousands of years, and this close relationship has enabled them to become biofeedback machines, giving them the ability to interpret our deepest emotions.
Horses are empathic animals that intuit our emotional states. Interacting with horses helps people work on things like self-awareness, confidence, trust, tolerance, and control – which are valuable in managing mental health issues such as addiction, PTSD, mood disorders, and depression.
Raising a pet is a major commitment that requires time, energy, and money. The rewards, however, can be priceless, especially in terms of how we interact with ourselves and with the world. In the words of James Cromwell, “pets are humanizing. They remind us we have an obligation and responsibility to preserve and nurture and care for all life.”