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Wed, Jul 24, 2019 5:05

Pets benefit mental health

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An extensive review that Medical News Today reported on included several testimonials from people living with mental health conditions who vouched for the emotional comfort and psychological benefits that their pets brought them.

Pet owners have long known — or rather, felt — that spending time with their beloved animal companion lowers stress and improves mood.

An extensive review that Medical News Today reported on included several testimonials from people living with mental health conditions who vouched for the emotional comfort and psychological benefits that their pets brought them.

In fact, the review concluded that pets should be part of patient care plans because of their valuable contribution to people's mental health and well-being.

Now, new research adds more scientific credibility to these claims. Researchers Patricia Pendry, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development at Washington State University in Pullman, and Jaymie L. Vandagriff, of the same department, set out to examine the effect of pets on the physiology of college students.

The researchers published their findings in the journal AERA Open, of the American Educational Research Association.

Pets lower cortisol levels

The scientists recruited 249 college students and divided them into four groups:

·         In one group, people were free to spend time with cats and dogs for 10 minutes, stroking and playing with the animals.

·         Another group observed other people interacting with the animals while they were waiting for their turn.

·         Another group watched a slideshow of the animals.

·         The final group simply sat and waited in silence.

Pendry and Vandagriff also collected samples of the participants' saliva and tested their cortisol levels both in the morning and after the intervention. Cortisol is a hormone that the body secretes in response to stress.