Animals have long been known for their uncanny ability to make people feel better—or even save them. Now research is backing up anecdotes with science.
A 2003 study in the American Journal of Cardiology found that men who had heart attacks were more likely to be alive after four years if they owned a dog. In a 1999 study, half of a group of 48 stockbrokers with hypertension were told to adopt a dog or a cat. After six months, the pet owners showed significantly lower blood pressure than the control group.
How are pets so healing? “Your dog doesn’t judge you,” says Stanley Coren, Ph.D., psychologist, professor at the University of British Columbia, and author of Why Does My Dog Act That Way? (Free Press, 2006). “Pets give you affection and support, whether you’ve earned it or not.” Animals can also be a social link to others, provide companionship to the lonely, and help reduce stress through physical touch.
HEALING ABILITY: Dogs’ saliva has been found to heal wounds. Moreover, the motion of a dogs’ tongue can aid wounds, as the saliva loosens debris on the surface of a cut.
BACKED BY SCIENCE: Researchers discovered a protein called Nerve Growth Factor in dog’s saliva; wounds treated with NGF heal twice as fast as untreated wounds.
HEALING ABILITY: Through their deep purring, cats can mend broken bones.
BACKED BY SCIENCE: Frequencies of 20 to 50 Hertz are helpful in speeding the healing process of bone injuries. Feline purring vibrations, which range from 20 – 140 Hertz, can help heal soft tissue injuries to ligaments, tendons and muscles.
HOUSE PETS – DOGS, CATS, RABBITS AND GUINEA PIGS
HEALING ABILITY: Household pets have been shown to raise immunities in babies.
BACKED BY SCIENCE: Babies who live with pets during their first six months have significantly lower chances of developing allergies and asthma. Children with pets are also less likely to come down with colds and ear infections during their first year.
HEALING ABILITY: Horses have been able to help people deal with physical, emotional, social, cognitive, behavioral issues.