Can a Pet Lower Your Blood Pressure?
Pets hold our hearts in their little paws and make us feel special when we are greeted by their happy fuzzy faces. After a hard day at work, it is such a special feeling to come home to a fuzzball who is excited to see you. They are always happy to see us and they starve for our undivided attention. Yet, the tables turn when we are sick or sad. They will sit on our laps or by our side until we feel better. For the past twenty-five years, research has shown that having a pet has various health benefits. One of those health benefits is the lowering of blood pressure. But how do they do this? When we play with our pets, our serotonin and dopamine levels increase, which are the nerve transmitters that make us feel at ease. So if you have high blood pressure and you don't have a pet, try getting a dog or a cat. Having someone who will stay by your side without argument, loves you, and relies on you can benefit you in the instance you are in a high stress situation. They do not judge you and in the meantime, you are relying on them to provide you with the joy their presence brings you.
We"ve been known to do things with our pets such as vent our frustrations while they sit and listen to us intently. We have probably even pulled Scruffy close to cry on his little shoulder. He may not know what is going on, but he will hold still and sympathize with you. Pets know when we are sad or sick and never seem to go far. There was a study of 48 stockbrokers who lived alone and were diagnosed with hypertension. After being told to perform tasks or "stress tests" that would raise their blood pressure, the brokers were prescribed Lisinopril for their high blood pressure and only half were told to get a dog or a cat to keep in the house. After six months, a second set of stress tests were performed and the brokers who didn't have house pets rose an average of 20 mm Hg, the average high being 141/94. Readings such as this are still considered having high blood pressure. The brokers who had pets still showed a rise in blood pressure, but it was only half of the rise as those who didn't have pets, which was a systolic rate of 130 mm Hg, which is not considered having high blood pressure. That reading is more like a normal high. So having pets not only makes us happier, it is actually a health benefit. It must be the feeling of being continually accepted by our fuzzy companions because they do not lie or cheat, and when they do something bad it's usually not intentional. You can't help but fall in love with that innocence and feel special when they give you the time of day. That is particularly true of cats, to receive their undivided attention is most certainly a special thing.
Photo Credit: AlexanderY