Dogs help us cope with crisis
- possible Health Effects Dogs help us cope with crisis
- Research on human-animal interactions is still relatively new. Some studies have shown positive health effects, but the results have been mixed.
- Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.
- The NIH/Mars Partnership is funding a range of studies focused on the relationships we have with animals. For example, researchers are looking into how animals might influence child development. They’re studying animal interactions with kids who have and other conditions.
- “There’s not one answer about how a pet can help somebody with a specific condition,” explains Dr. Layla Esposito, who oversees NIH’s Human-Animal Interaction Research Program. “Is your goal to increase physical activity? Then you might benefit from owning a dog.
Dogs are a source of companionship and comfort for their owners, but the degree to which this might translate into real emotional and social support has not been quantified. Emotional and social support are essential to help people to get through personal crises such as bereavement. In this study we characterize the social support owners obtain from their dogs, provide evidence of how widespread this social support is amongst dog-owners, and show how social support from dogs can increase during a crisis (using the COVID-19 pandemic as an example).
We collected data from a representative population-based sample of Spanish dog-owners and found that most respondents said that their dogs helped them to get through tough times. They got comfort from physical contact with their dogs, shared activities with them and treated them as confidants in a similar way to friends and family. These are all key aspects of social support, and dogs offer the advantage of being more available than human sources of support.
or the slightly privileged, the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown has meant embellishing your life with new routines. Rosita Thomas, a 26-year-old Mumbai-based graphic designer, has been arranging regular virtual dates between her dog, Amigo, and her friend who is currently living away from his family.
Research has shown that simply petting a dog lowers the stress hormone cortisol , while the social interaction between people and their dogs actually increases levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin (the same hormone that bonds mothers to babies).
In fact, an astonishing 84 percent of post-traumatic stress disorder patients paired with a service dog reported a significant reduction in symptoms, and 40 percent were able to decrease their medications, reported a recent survey.
Lower blood pressure.
The cortisol-lowering and oxytocin-boosting benefits of petting also help keep your blood pressure at bay. “Petting and holding an animal allows you to appreciate the beauty of nature,” explains Barron. “It’s relaxing and transcendental.”
What if I can’t have a pet?
If you can’t afford a pet, live somewhere you’re not allowed one, or you’re worried about having times where you’re too unwell to care for a pet, there are other options.
The simplest option may be spending time with friends’ pets, whether that’s walking their dogs, stroking their cats or cuddling their guinea pigs. They might be glad to have someone to pet sit for them while they’re on holiday. You can also consider signing up as a house sitter: you look after someone’s home, garden and pets in return for free accommodation.
If you’re missing having a dog in your life, you could sign up with . They connect dog owners to local people who would love to walk or play with a do also needs volunteer dog walkers to help out older people or those with a health condition or disability that means they can’t walk their dog as easily anymore. They also need people to foster pets while their owners are in hospitas. Dogs help us cope with crisis
Contact a rescue center near you to see what volunteering opportunities they may have. They may need volunteers to exercise, care for and socialize their pets. You could consider fostering an animal if you’re able to have a pet on a short-term basis but can’t commit to one long-term. Some shy or scared animals need the peace and quiet of a home while waiting to be adopted.