Anyone who loves dogs will tell you that owning a pet fills your life with so much joy. Plus, a pet’s love feels like enough to lessen your worries.
Seemingly, these feelings are backed by science. A study published in AERA Open that was conducted by the Department of Human Development supports that petting a dog (or a cat) lowers a person’s stress levels.
Associate Professor Patricia Pendry ran the study with Washington State University graduate student Jaymie Vandagriff. According to the study’s results, when a person spends approximately 10 minutes petting a dog, their mood starts to improve.
The study organized an animal visitation program for college students. Further, the researchers formed four groups out of 249 students.
First, Group 1 was instructed to play with shelter cats and dogs for 10 minutes. Group 2 stood in line and watched the first group play with the animals.
Group 3 was instructed to look at photos of the animals, but they did not see them in person. Last, Group 4 was told that they were on the waitlist to meet the shelter animals, but they did not get to view or interact with them.
Further, three saliva samples were collected from all of the students. The first saliva sample was taken after the students woke up. The next one was taken 15 minutes after they participated in the experiment, and the last sample was taken 25 minutes after the animals were or were not introduced.
The samples measured salivary cortisol levels in the body, because cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone. After the experiment, it was observed that the students in Group 1 had notably lower salivary cortisol levels than the students in Group 2, 3, and 4.
In an article released by the WSU Insider, Pendry emphasized the significant physical and mental benefits brought by interacting with animals. Ultimately, Pendry concluded that being around dogs and cats prompts positive emotions.
So, if you’re having a bad day, belly rubs, wet kisses, and furry hugs might make you forget your problems for a while.