By Lisa Woodside
Humans have been living with dogs and cats for over 10,000 years. So it should come as no surprise that having cats and dogs in our homes helps us to feel more relaxed and calm. Beyond de-stressing, our live-in pets provide a host of health benefits. We’re wired for connection with other creatures, and our cats and dogs provide more than just unconditional love.
• The power of a cat’s purr: Your cat could be sharing her “9-lives” resilience with you through her purr. Cats purr at a frequency of 25-150 Hz. According to Leslie A. Lyons, an assistant professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California Davis, research has shown that sound frequencies at these levels help to “improve bone density and promote healing.” That cat purring on your chest could be bringing you sonic muscle healing and stronger bones.
• Four-legged heart protection: Petting your Golden Retriever can help keep you out of the doctor’s office. According to Dr. Marty Becker, author of The Healing Power of Pets, having pets in your home increases your likelihood of surviving a year after a heart attack by 8 times over someone without a pet. He points out that pets lower our blood pressure, cholesterol and even the number of doctor visits we make.
• Meet my furry antidepressant: That little Yorkie on the end of the leash eases depression and feelings of isolation by working as a conversation starter. British researcher June McNicholas, Professor of Psychology at the University of Warwick found that dog walkers talked with more people than those walking without a pet. In fact, the dog-owner’s attire did not change the results. Sleek to shabbily-clothed dog walkers had the same results; folks were attracted to the dog. Having more social interactions improves a person’s sense of psychological well-being, and the side-effect of walking your dog is daily exercise for both person and pet.
The more we research, the more health benefits are discovered to simply owning and enjoying your pet. By nurturing and caring for our pets, we receive nurturing, relaxation and a sense of well-being ourselves. For optimum physical and mental health, include a pet in your self-care routines. If you don’t have a pet and want help selecting one, check with a veterinarian.