The Benefits of Pets and Healing

by Gail R. Mitchell

Dogs, cats, fish, birds and other pets have long been incredible companions for their owners. One of their most outstanding characteristics is the unconditional love they offer to us. For any of you who have ever owned a pet, you know the benefits of having these loving beings in your life.

I remember reading stories how cats were put in the Pharaoh's tombs when they were buried to help them journey on into the spiritual realm in safety. In some religions, it is felt that when an owner is ill, the animal actually can take on the illness to help in healing their owner.

The pets that are man's best friend provide many benefits and they are being credited with providing not only companionship to humans, but health benefits to many as well. The medical establishment and people in general are beginning to recognize and accept the healing impact these animals have on the human being.

Studies have shown that the simple stroking of a pet, such as a dog or cat, can actually lower heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. Even watching fish in an aquarium creates similar effects. It is both soothing and meditative.

Many animal shelters, for example, are beginning to bring animals for visits to nursing homes fostering a healing energy for so many elderly people. It definitely has been successful for while it can help reduce stress, it facilitates more social interaction. It also brings the people in the facility together with a common interest. Many reflect on the own pet companions that may have passed, that they are missing. In reminiscing, they remember happy times. They seem to open up when they are around animals. It is great for children in rehabilitation centers as well. This so called "pet therapy" is being recognized more and more. "Pet therapy" also encourages prior pet owners to share stories, pictures and descriptions of their beloved pets. It is definitely a way to get to know each other more.

The world's love of pets extends to club memberships, pet shows, magazines and a booming industry supporting their grooming, feeding and comfort. People who want to give their pet the best spend millions of dollars each year. Most people treat their pets in their end of life stages no differently then they would a human loved one. They deserve it because these loving pets give us so much in terms of companionship and unconditional love.

Gail Mitchell has published several articles and is hoping to publish her manuscript on her caregiving process with her father. Visit her web site at

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