Photo by MisoLuvlee 2008, from Dog Star Daily
On some level, this must be driving pharmaceutical executives crazy: Dogs, cats and other animals, just by being cute, cuddly and friendly, apparently can lift people's mood and even relieve medical symptoms, quickly, without side effects and for free.
Hey, don't take our word for it -- check out this touching video and article about how animal therapists help improve people's lives. The article cites real research showing that interaction with friendly animals - and dogs in particular - can slow heart rate, relax muscles and even lower the level of stress hormones in the bloodstream.
It seems that dogs (and to some extent, other animals) appear to sense when people are down or need attention, and the pooches have an uncanny way of showing just the right type of attention to help bring a patient out of a funk, even if only temporarily.
An increasing number of volunteers are now escorting pets into senior centers, libraries (to help children with reading problems) and even hospitals. Check with those facilities in your area to find out about pet-related volunteer programs. To learn more about the human-animal bond, visit American Humane. For volunteer opportunities of all kinds, visit Create The Good.
Have a story about how a pet helped improve someone's health? Share it here!
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