Benefits of playing with pets have long been felt by humans. Those who spend time with pet companions feel reduced stress and their mood improve.
The results were revealed by Medical News Today which screens reports of the testimonies of people living with mental health conditions. They get emotional comfort and psychological benefits from their companion pets.
Pets become part of the patient care plan because of their valuable contributions to mental health and human well-being. Researchers and also professors in the Department of Human Development at Washington State University at Pullman, Patricia Pendry and Jaymie L. Vandagriff tried to examine the effects of pets on student physiology.
The scientists recruited 249 students and divided them into four groups. The first group of people is free to spend time with cats and dogs for 10 minutes, petting and playing with them. The second group is to observe other people interacting with the animals while they wait for their turn.
While the next group watches animal slides. For the latter group, they are to just sit and wait in silence.
Pendry and Vandagriff also collect participants’ saliva samples and test cortisol levels in the morning and after the intervention. Cortisol is a hormone released by the body in response to stress.
To examine the effect of interventions on cortisol levels, the researchers applied multivariate linear regression analysis. Overall, the analysis revealed that students who interacted with animals had significantly lower cortisol levels. This effect occurs regardless of whether participants’ initial cortisol levels are very high or very low at the start of the study.
“Students in our study who interacted with cats and dogs experienced a reduction in cortisol, the main stress hormone. We already know students enjoy interacting with animals, and that helps them to experience more positive emotions, “Pendry said.
Pendry said, with just 10 minutes, they can have a significant impact. From the results of a study published in the journal AERA Open from the American Educational Research Association, they plan to examine the effects of a similar four-week program, where animals are expected to help relieve stress.