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How animal contact can have a positive impact on our health

Animals can play an important role in many peoples lives. In Addition to seeing-eye dogs and Service Dogs, animals can also be used in occupational therapy, speech therapy, or physical rehabilitation to help clients recover. Aside from these designated therapeutic roles, animals are also valued as companions, which can certainly affect the quality of our lives. Is that companionship beneficial to our health?

Companion animals may improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and regulating the heart rate during stressful situations. A 2002 study showed that people with a dog or cat have lower resting heart rates and blood pressure measures than non-pet owners. The findings indicated that having a dog or cat lowers the risk of heart disease, as well as lowering stress.

Researchers have also used animals to temporarily provide companionship to children with health or mental health problems, or elderly people who may not have the energy or resources for a live-in pet. While these studies do not always have consistent results, some positive findings of interacting with a therapy dog include reduced levels of pain and anxiety among hospitalised children and adults, as well as increased focus and interaction among children with autism and other developmental disorders. In residential facility settings, interaction with visiting dogs has led to more social behaviours, more interaction among residents, and less loneliness.

Complete Nursing