The healing power of pets...

Written by: Nev Amp, Practice Consultant, Rural Alive & Well

At RAW, we simply love animals, and have a great bias towards dogs! Personally, I have loved dogs from a very young age. As a child, I used to ‘rescue’ the strays and take them home (much to my parent’s frustration). And, as I reflect back on my life, I’ve always had furry companions.

I’m sure many of you reading this can relate. We all know that pets show us unconditional love, and bring us lots of joy.

However, a growing body of research also shows that animals have the power to improve our overall quality of life, as well as make us healthier.

Research shows that contact with animals can help us:

  • Decrease stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve heart health
  • Reduce pain
  • Improve mood
  • Facilitate social connection
  • Improve immunity
  • Improve fitness
  • Give a sense of purpose and belonging

The use of animals in therapy has expanded dramatically over the last few years and we are learning about the ways in which animals can help in the treatment of many illnesses; both physical and mental.

This explains why we have seen an increase in the use of animals (dogs, cats, birds, horses, dolphins) in sectors such as disability, mental health, education, physical health, and welfare.

A key hormone that plays a part in most of the health benefits above is called oxytocin. Oxytocin is essential in creating the feelings of love, trust and comfort. Releasing oxytocin on a regular basis allows us to gain longer-term health benefits as well.

When we feel safe and loved, we are activating our parasympathetic nervous system. This is a state of healing where we begin to grow new cells, see blood pressure lower, muscles relax, our nervous system calms down, digestive system functions properly, and we feel more at peace. The longer we are in this state, the healthier we are, both in the body and mind.

So now that winter is here, do yourself a favour and get close to your furry friend, you’ll feel that love and connection, and you’ll get some free, added health benefits as well.

If you are finding winter that little bit harder this year, we encourage you to reach out on 1800 729 827 (1800 RAW TAS)

Ready to take the next step?