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Friday, February 12, 2010

Love your Pet

My daughter's favorite pastime right now is to hold our little dog, Annie, on her lap while sitting on the couch. (That's them in the photo). It is so adorable. And it makes Flannery soooo happy.

Which reminded me of a study my friend Beth once mentioned to me. She told me about a study that found that when we pet dogs, happy neurotransmitters like serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin are released by our brain. No wonder my daughter loves to pet and hold little Annie dog!

I did a little bit of research, and besides making us happy, it turns out that our pets are good for our health in many ways! For instance, dog-owners generally get more physical exercise than non-dog owners, regardless of whether they report taking their dogs on regular walks. Pets can also help us reduce our anxiety and stress levels. I also found a neat article that discusses how our blood pressure drops while we are quietly petting dogs. Visits with dogs can help reduce loneliness in nursing home patients. There's even some evidence that owning a pet can make you more likely to be alive one year after a heart attack, controlling for severity of the heart attack. I'm sure there are tons of researchy-flaws in those studies that my husband will be thrilled to discover, but I still think it's pretty cool that there are scientists out there researching how dogs make us healthier and happier.

So now I"m off to the couch to have some neurotransmitter release time with the puppies!

How do your pets make you happy?

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