You may want to reconsider your decision if you feel that the health issues that pets bring into your home are preventing you from getting a pet. Since the late 1700s, pets have been routinely used as therapy for a variety of illnesses, and research indicates they promote healthy and active lifestyles.
According to South China Morning Post, in the late 1700s, English Quaker health retreat staff encouraged mental health patients to interact with animals. Psychologists like Sigmund Freud and Boris Levinson used dogs in sessions, and dogs have been used to treat various disorders, including PTSD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, agoraphobia, dementia, and anxiety.
Research from Human Animal Bond Research Institute, Habri, indicates that interaction with animals can raise or lower hormones, such as cortisol, our stress hormone. Spending time with animals can also produce oxytocin, a hormone that strengthens maternal bonds in mammals.
Similarly, a positive relationship with an animal can make people feel more relaxed and reduce arterial pressure and cardiorespiratory rates, resulting in a more even breathing and a steadier heartbeat.
Additionally, a recent study suggests pet ownership may protect brains, as long-term ownership has been linked to slower cognitive decline.
Tiffany Braley, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan in the US and senior author of the study, explains that there are several “plausible pathways” that could promote better cognition.
According to her, cognitive decline is related to physical inactivity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and ongoing stress.
“Physical activity, which is associated with dog ownership, may provide cognitive as well as physical health benefits through improved cardiovascular health, and other mechanisms,” she said.
Staying active by staying on the move keeps your brain healthy ultimately helping you maintain a healthy weight.
Research from the past has found associations between spending time with pets and stress relief, including drops in blood pressure and cortisol levels, which over time may have an effect on cognitive health.
Being on the move also helps keep your weight down, another plus for healthy brains.
According to Jennifer Applebaum, an assistant professor of environmental and global health at the University of Florida in the US, people who own pets for longer periods of time exhibit better cognitive function than those who own pets for shorter periods of time or not at all.
In another study by the University of Basel in Switzerland it was revealed that positive and regular interaction with animals, particularly dogs, increased prefrontal brain activity in healthy adults.
This, in turn, boosted concentration, memory, problem-solving, and emotional responses. The findings supported the idea that animal therapy, or pet ownership, may boost cognitive and emotional activity in the brain.
Dogs prefer routine. When it comes to how dogs react to feeding time and the people who give them food, consider the work of Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov: He noticed that the moment the footsteps of those who usually fed the dogs approached, the dogs began to salivate. It is imperative to follow feeding schedules if you own a dog. Your dog won’t let you forget when it’s time.
Eventually, routines support focus, organisation, and stress reduction, all of which are important for maintaining brain health. After a meal, taking your dog for a walk can be fun and exciting and help you both feel better.
Once you watch your dog chase a pigeon or gambol in a park, it might make you smile and get your heart pumping. It’s likely to improve your mood, waistband, brain, and dog.