As January gets underway and we start breaking our New Years resolutions, we’ve got some good news: petting a dog is actually really good for your health.
Yes, if you promised yourself that 2019 would be the year you focused on your health and wellbeing, the secret to seeing it through isn’t just journalling, spa days or meditation. The self-care journey can also include something as easy as having a pet. Hurrah.
If you love nothing more than coming home and giving your fur baby a big cuddle, it’s not just giving you a warm, fuzzy feeling – it’s actually lowering your blood pressure, too.
Tombola released a study that reveals petting an animal – be it dog, cat, goat – for just fifteen minutes can lower your blood pressure by up to 10%. Great news.
The study showed that petting an animal ‘releases serotonin, oxytocin, prolactin and even lowers the stress hormone cortisol. These feel-good hormones lower our stress and anxiety, serotonin being the main thing antidepressants try to replicate.’
Disclaimer: fluffy toys don’t quite cut it. In order to see this health benefit, it has to be a real, living animal.
It claims: ‘Researchers found that petting a living creature, whether furry or shelled, massively reduced anxiety in the participants.’
That’s right – if you’ve got a pet turtle it also counts.
Another study published by AERA found that when 249 college students interacted with cats and dogs for just ten minutes they experienced reduced stress levels.
‘Just ten minutes can have a significant impact,’ said Patricia Pendry, an associate professor in WSU’s Departments of Human Development in a statement.
‘Students in our study that interacted with cats and dogs had a significant reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone.’
We already knew that having a pet is good for your mental health. Numerous studies have shown that they can help with depression, PTSD and loneliness, too.
So all in all, having a pet dog can help your mental and physical health. We’re sold.