Pets: Nature’s Furry Little Antidepressants

Corgi Wrangling

We talk a lot here about eating right, exercising and visiting your chiropractic team to maintain your health, but did you know that pet ownership can also provide you with stress relief, lowered blood pressure, a cure for depression, and the ability to live longer? Sign me up for a dozen corgis, stat!

Benefits of Owning a Dog

Numerous studies have shown that dogs are better at providing stress relief than even friends and family members. The National Institute of Health is surprised by this finding, but it’s no secret to anyone who’s ever loved a dog. Dogs are great listeners and they keep better secrets than people do.

Now research shows that owning a pet provides for better stress relief than ever thought possible. Pet ownership reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, improves the functioning of the immune system, aids in managing pain, and enhances empathy while reducing aggression. And if all that wasn’t enough for you, pet ownership may even help our ability to learn.

These benefits appear to be caused be caused by the increase in oxytocin that we receive from interacting with our pets. This is the hormone that’s released during breastfeeding to aid in mother and child bonding.

Still not convinced? Here are just a few benefits of dog ownership:

  • Improved recovery after a heart attack
  • Lowered levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • They may be able to reduce irregular heartbeats
  • Improve the function of blood vessels
  • They increase your level of physical activity. 
  • Dog owners have fewer minor health problems
  • A reduction in medical appointments
  • Linda (Rita's cat)Some dogs are able to predict seizures
  • Reduced risk for depression
  • An improvement of self esteem

Don’t Forget Our Feline Friends

One group who particularly benefits from pet ownership is the elderly. I worked as a nurse’s aide in my early 20s in a nursing home that had a pet cat for all the patients to enjoy, which was a novel idea at the time. I don’t know if Morris had any effect on the physical outcome of patients, but I do know that residents who were unable or unwilling to communicate with me would perk up when that orange tabby showed up in their room. He had a knack of knowing who needed him the most and the nurses would frequently find him curled up next to a patient who was getting ready to pass on, offering comfort and warmth for the journey.

There’s no single “magic bullet” for good health. A long and productive life requires several things- a healthy diet, exercise and trips to the chiropractor’s office. It would also appear that owning a pet is another building block to health that we can all benefit from. It just so happens that this particular block comes with a wet nose and a furry belly.


Story credit

Photo credit: Corgi Wrangling by nikoretroLinda (Rita’s cat) by MissBlythe. Used under a Creative Commons license.

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.