I covered in the previous blog and will cover in future blogs what’s in it stroking your pet for you and your physical and emotional health, but you may be wondering what’s in it for your pet’s health and well-being. There’s research showing what as pet owners you already may know--they really, really like being pet. And, not just that, it benefits their health as much as it benefits yours.
How does it help your pet's health?
- It can help create a bond between you and your pet as the pet becomes familiar with your smell and as you put aside special time for you and your pet.
- It can help with grooming for cats by spreading natural oils and by removing excess fur which can reduce hairballs.
- You will know the “ins and outs” of your pet and therefore be able to detect any health problems such as sores or lumps and other potentially painful or dangerous spots more easily and keep you in touch with your pet’s physical being.
- It can reduce their stress and anxiety.
- It can increase several positive hormones.
Intrigued? Read on for the summaries of several of the studies. I’ve also added links or references if you would like even more details.
- In two studies, dogs chose to spend time with a person providing physical attention over a person providing verbal attention. This was true even when the dog’s owner was the one giving positive verbal attention and an unknown researcher was petting the dog. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376635714001879
- In another study, shelter dogs that had human interaction were less likely to have higher cortisol responses indicating higher stress than those dogs that did not have as much human interaction. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23234768
- In a study of dogs and their owners, the owners talked softly toward, gently stroked, played, and scratched the body and ears of their dogs for around 30 minutes. Both the owners (see the results in a future blog post)' and their dogs' hormone levels were taken before and after. The dogs' hormone levels increased significantly for all the hormones they measured except cortisol. This included oxytocin (suggests positive emotions and bonding), beta-endorphin (suggests euphoric state, de-stress, and numbs pain), prolactin (suggests eating and bonding), beta-phenylethylamine (suggests stimulant and exhilaration), and dopamine (suggests motivation and pleasure). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S109002330200237X
- How about cats? They, too, enjoy being stroked. Only four out of 120 cats in one study disliked being stroked. http://www.ibtimes.com/petting-your-cat-purr-fectly-ok-does-not-increase-stress-study-1428986.
- So why might this be? Even mice like being pet, and mice research might have some answers. In one study, researchers found that gently stroking a mouse stimulates a particular neuron (MRGPRB4+). By activating a similar reaction with a chemical, they found that the mice had fewer signs of stress, leading the researchers to believe that the sensation was both calming and pleasurable for the mice. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-do-animals-love-petting/ and http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v10/n8/abs/nn1937.html
In sum, most dogs, cats and even mice like being stroked. And, it is good for their health, well-being and your bond and connection with them. Your pets may “outlast” you as you stroke them. Erin Feurbacher found in her research that both shelter and owned dogs wanted even more pets after their 18 minute petting sessions was done.
Please share with us your experiences stroking your animals. We would love to hear from you (contact form).