Playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol. These types of changes can help children or adults with activities that cause them stress. With less stress, comes increased health. Researchers found that patients with high blood pressure was lower during times of mental stress over patients without pets.
“Both pet ownership and social support are significant predictors of survival, independent of the effects of the other psychosocial factors and physiologic status,” wrote the heart-disease researchers.
In Italy, researchers documented successful introduction of a shelter dogs to Alzheimer’s patients. Through questionnaire studies, it was determined that animal-assisted activities was beneficial to the patient.
It has also been reported that you can train a puppy or train a dog to be of service to people who suffer with anxiety.