The animals in our lives can make us happy in so many ways.
From watching funny pet videos to relaxing with our favorite pooch, pets make us laugh, make us smile, and make us feel better about the world around us.
That’s why doctors and hospitals have long enlisted the help of therapy dogs to help patients, whether they’re recovering from a physical injury or need emotional support to overcome a mental health issue.
But according to researchers at the University of British Columbia, it takes more than just having a dog in the room with you to grab the most benefits for your well-being.
Petting and cuddling
As Dr. John-Tyler Binfet, director of the Building Academic Retention Through K-9s (BARK) program at UBC said, while past studies had proven the power or pet time to enhance wellbeing, we didn’t know why or what that time should include.
That’s why his team decided to recruit 284 students from the college to help them find out.
Each student answered questions about their overall wellbeing including questions on self-perceptions of “flourishing”, social connectedness, happiness, integration into the campus community, stress, homesickness and loneliness.
Then they were randomly assigned to one of three groups:
- Group 1 spent time with a therapy dog, but with no touching.
- Group 2 not only interacted with their dog but was able to pet and cuddle the pooch.
- Group 3 had no pup time at all but instead met with a dog handler to just talk.
And here’s where it gets really interesting…
While all groups experienced improvements in wellbeing, those who spent time with a pet benefitted more.
And the ones who felt the best were the participants who actually had physical contact with their dog.
In fact, petting and cuddling led to significant improvements in all categories of wellbeing.
The results were so dramatic that Dr. Binfet called canine cuddles “a surefire way to reduce stress.”
Pet power for a healthy mood
Yup, loving our pets is proving to be one of the best things we can do for our mental health.
But don’t be fooled. Pet power goes beyond improving our wellbeing.
Studies have also proven that having a dog can improve your physical health in five powerful ways too.
Of course, while our dogs are looking out for us, it’s important that we return the favor and look out for them too.
So be sure to give your dog — or cat or hamster — the one thing they need from the start for good health.
And as we move into fall and the holiday season that comes with it, beware of pet dangers and learn how to protect them from everything from holiday food and decoration hazards to party worries.
Pet your pet and grab a canine cuddle to give them the love they deserve and you a little slice of happiness in a stressful world.
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UBCO researchers explore the impact of canine cuddles on students — The University of British Columbia