Research shows health benefits of human-animal interactions

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 11:18 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - For some, few things compare to the joyous feeling a furry friend can bring. Studies show that interacting with animals can have a positive effect on you physically, mentally, and emotionally.

“People’s faces light up, they smile, and they get excited.”

Wendy Peukert, Volunteer Coordinator at Renown Health

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), an estimated 68^ of U.S. households have a pet.

“Owning a pet gets you out of bed in the morning, you have a reason to get up,” Wendy Peukert, Volunteer Coordinator at Renown Health said.

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) says more than 97% of doctors believe there are health benefits to owning one.

Peukert added, “It’s good for your heart health, it’s good for your morale, and in general, it can boost your mood and make you less depressed if you have depression issues, and it’s good for your body, mind, and soul.”

Peukert also heads the Pet Therapy Program at Renown. She says even just the presence of a puppy can make someone feel more relaxed. But dogs aren’t the only furry friend that can bring out the best in people.

“Ponies or goats or their favorite sheep all do the same exact thing,” Peukert said, “So even if you don’t have room for a small farm, you may have room for a kitty cat in your house. It can release serotonin in your brain so that you feel happy, it’s that happy dopamine feel.”

“It’s not only beneficial for you, but it’s also beneficial for the dog. I think it’s great, they love it, it’s nice for them to feel like they have a job.”

Tatum Sutliff, Volunteer Coordinator at Renown Health

Research suggests that animals can also help promote your social life.

Peukert added, “Whether it’s in a classroom or a public setting, even at a dog park. If you yourself are shy, it’s a great way to start a conversation.”

If you are interested in volunteering with the Pet Therapy Program or other volunteer opportunities, click here.

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