Even if we don’t drink it, we all remember Coca-Cola’s slogan: “The Pause that Refreshes.”
Time and time again scientific studies have shown that companion animals have a positive effect on human health:
Physically challenged individuals indicate that their service dogs provide companionship and support, reduce stress, increase their “freedom to be capable,” and provide a sense of purpose.
Quality of life improves in families of epileptic individuals when a dog that responds to seizures is present in the home.
Animal-assisted therapy effectively reduces the loneliness of residents in long-term care facilities.
One general study found that cat owners scored better on psychological health ratings than did non-owners. Other studies have been more specific, focusing on groups facing stressful life events such as bereavement, illness, and homelessness. Findings from these studies often indicate that pets—dogs, cats, and birds—play a significant supportive role, reducing depression and loneliness and providing companionship and a need for responsibility.
Even passive interaction with animals can provide benefit. For example, people who watch fish in an aquarium experience decreased pulse rate, increased skin temperature, and decreased muscle tension. Amazingly, the nutritional intake and weight of Alzheimer’s Disease patients increased significantly when fish aquariums were introduced into their dining areas.
Companion animals—truly the paws that refreshes.
Do you have a companion animal? If not now, perhaps one in the past?
Listen with your heart,
“Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan