are the complete social being. Like many animals, humans
live in our own packs and strive to form a connection
with other living things.
10,000 B.C., dogs, thought to be the first domesticated
animal, were found buried cradled in the arms of their
owners. In 7,500 B.C., the first evidence of
domesticated cats was found in Egyptian burials.
continue to be an optional part of our modern lives.
Research shows that our desire to connect with our pets
can be a valuable asset for those struggling with
physical and emotional pain; mental illnesses, such as
depression and anxiety; and environmental factors, such
as loneliness," says Jennifer Wickham, licensed
professional counselor at Mayo Clinic Health System.
potential benefits of pet ownership and pet therapy were
first explored in research in the 1980s. This research
found that the companionship of pets may be important in
fostering positive mental health and well-being in
people (McNicols, 2005).
July 2011, the American Psychological Association
reported on a study that found pets serve as an
important social and emotional support for
"everyday people" and for those with
"significant health challenges." This study
examined the outcomes of those individuals who owned a
pet and those who did not. The results show that
"pet owners fared better in terms of well-being
not a replacement for social interaction with people,
pets do provide social support and stress
reduction," adds Wickham. "We know, through
medical research, that increased levels of the stress
hormone cortisol slows immune response to injury sites.
When this occurs, the healing process can be delayed
causing increased recovery times. Developing strategies
for reducing stress in everyday life and in health
crisis situations has been a recent focus for all."
hospitals and clinics now have policies allowing pets to
be present to provide emotional support and
companionship to ease the stress of illness and pain.
if you own a pet, take good care of them, because they
take care of you. Their unconditional love for us
bestows many wellness benefits," says Wickham.
Clinic and Mayo Clinic Health System locations offer a
variety of pet therapy programs at campuses in Arizona,
Florida, Wisconsin and Minnesota.