health benefits of animal assisted therapy

Life without dogs is like a night-sky without stars

Dogs have an uncanny ability to be in tune with their owners’ emotional state. They act as a natural anti-depressant, offering unconditional love and companionship.

Scientific evidence was first reported 30 years ago that dogs can produce major psychological and health benefits. These original studies measured what happens physically when a person pets a friendly, familiar dog: their blood pressure lowered, heart rate slowed, breathing became more regular and muscle tension relaxed: all signs of reduced stress!! A recent study has also added that there are changes in blood chemistry demonstrating lower amounts of stress-related hormones, like cortisol.

Research also shows that people over 60 years old who live alone and without pets are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed as clinically depressed than pet owners of the same age. Plus, pet owners required fewer medical services and were more satisfied with their lives!

So what about cats, you ask?

The healing power of the feline cat has also been scientifically proven –

  • Purring heals wounds, pulled muscles and stabilises blood pressure – they create purr vibrations of 20-140 Hz, known to be beneficial for multiple medical illnesses
  • Cats keep you warm because they have such high body temperatures – 39 degrees C
  • Cat people have 40% less risk of heart attack
  • Petting a cat calms you down and relieves stress

So what does this mean to you?

If you are sad, get a pet.
If you are depressed, speak with a mental health professional, and get a pet.
If you are happy, get a pet (so that it can keep you that way).
If you aren’t sure how you feel, get a pet.

Written By Dr Debbie Collaros – Psychologist –

Did you know?

Actor Mickey Rourke won the 2009 Golden Globe Award for best actor in THE WRESTLER. In his acceptance speech, he thanked his dog because without him, he doubted he’d have been alive! His life was headed southbound… he was depressed and friends had left him due to his bad habits. He admits that he went into a closet with his little Chihuahua-cross Beau jack and intended to commit suicide. “I was doing some crazy stuff, but I saw a look in Beau Jack’s eyes and I put the stuff down. That dog saved my life”

His life took a turn and he became active in animal welfare issues. So bonded was he to Beau Jack, that he gave him 45 minutes of mouth to mouth to try save him before he died”… now he has 5 dogs!

“I truly believe God created dogs for a cause – they are the greatest companions a man could ever have”.