Mankind has had pets for tens of thousands of years. While we're not sure when the first human adopted his or her first pet, we know that the bond between human and animal goes back to ancient times.
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It's no wonder that given our history together, pets today are considered part of the family, as loved as a son or a daughter. Pets not only provide companionship and sometimes protection, they also provide many proven health benefits that have even been touted as alternatives to medication. Here are some of the gifts of health pets can bring:
- Pets prolong our lives.
A couple studies have suggested that heart attack patients who own pets live longer, and petting a dog can alleviate high blood pressure, without the side effects of medication.
- Pets make us happy.
When you walk down a street with a pet, you may notice more people smile at you or interact with your pet than if you were to walk alone. Or when you get home after a hard day, having your pet greet you with a chirp or a wag of the tail may lighten the stress you've accumulated over the last eight hours. One study has been researching a link between pets and an increase in the level of Oxytocin, which is associated with happiness and trust.
- Pets combat loneliness.
There is research that shows pets relieve the stress of loneliness sometimes even better than people-- nursing home residents reported feeling better after a visit from a pet than even time spent with other humans. Other studies suggest that the unconditional nature of an attentive pet may be even more therapeutic than talking with a friend or spouse. Not to say your dog should replace your friends, but there's something to be said for a pet's uncanny ability to focus on you and listen in silence.
- Exercise is a win-win situation.
We are good for our pets health too-- when we take our dogs or cats or even lizards outside to play or exercise, the experience is both a mental and physical strengthening. Exercise benefits those of us struggling with stress, and you and your pet thrive on the interaction, socialization, and fresh outdoor air.
So this month, give your pet an extra hug each day, and tell them thank you in whatever language they understand for being such a good companion. If you don't have a pet, and you are considering one, remember that they come in all shapes and sizes, all temperaments and personalities. Whether you're a fish-lover or a cat-lover, iguana-keeper or canary-watcher, there's the right pet for almost anyone who needs a friend.
Share a photo of your pet or a pet story you have in our popular DailyStrength Pet Appreciation Group.
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