Food and Fitness

Animals Play Vital Roles in Healing


Animals Play Vital Roles in Healing


Pet owners can attest their four-legged housemates truly become integrated into the family. They can be nurturers, stress relievers, protectors, motivators for physical activity and even alarm clocks. Beyond all this, animals also play an important role in health and wellness.


Cardiovascular Health

Dogs can protect hearts. Research shows a connection between dog ownership and reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels. Other studies have found heart attack survivors and those with abnormal heart rhythms who own dogs live longer than people with the same heart problems.



Although animal therapy is mostly considered to be a tool for rehabilitating people with physical ailments or impairments, it is also helpful for cancer patients, people in long-term care facilities, chronic heart failure patients, veterans with PTSD and children with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. The purring of a cat reduces blood pressure.


Pain Management

The stress-relieving benefits and happiness that come with caring for and bonding with an animal can help alleviate pain. Studies from the Research Center for Human/Animal Interactions found interacting with animals can increase levels of the hormone oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin helps people feel happy and trusting. It has powerful effects on the body’s ability to be in a state of readiness to heal and grow new cells.


Physical Activity

Having a dog means more daily walking will be incorporated into your life. This is beneficial because walking as little as 30 minutes a day can improve your health.


Benefits for Babies

Studies have shown that babies raised in families with pets may be less likely to develop allergies and asthma, especially if the pet is in the home before the children are 6 months old.


Psychological Problems

Animals have been used in psycho-therapy with great results. Cats and parrots are sometimes incorporated into therapy for individuals who tend to act out because of aggression or impulse control issues.