Pets relieve stress, tension on ‘ruff’ days

Paige Gieseke, Staff Writer

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Everyone has those days when stress seems to be at its peak. According to several studies done over recent years, the best medicine is simple: pets. Whether it is a fluffy, afishy, or a feathery friend, they can all: help their owners live a healthier life.
According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, pets can be great companions during times of stress and loneliness.
“I’m not lonely because I always have my dog. I always have something to do because I can play with him and walk him.” Julia Ruch, senior, said.
According to a 2012 Japan study, dog owners had more hours of physical activity compared to non-dog owners. When someone is consistently walking or playing with their dog, their heart rate increases, and it helps keep them healthier. Studies from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) show that if a person is physically active, they have lower stress and anxiety levels.
In those times of stress, having a companion around is always a good remedy. In a 2002 study at State University of New York at Buffalo, it says when someone is performing a task that makes them anxious, they had lower levels of stress when a pet was nearby rather than a family member or friend.
“There’s been times where I’m doing homework and [my cat] will sit at the empty chair next to me, and he’ll be there for me,” Alyssa Pribnow, junior, said. “Even when my parents are out or my brother is at soccer, he’ll be at the house [with me].”
Cats and dogs are not the only pet that can help with stress. There are other pets out there that can help—even if they are not a fluffy friend.
“Having several fish is easier to maintain since they can be in all one tank, compared to any other pets.” Lillian Pankhurst, sophomore, said. “The aquatic aesthetic is calming because [of] the sound of the water from the filter and being able to see the fish float around or fly through the water.”
According to a study by National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth University, and University of Exeter, watching fish swim around in fish tanks helped lower blood pressure and heart rate. Listening to the trickling water and seeing the colorful array of fish can also improve a person’s sleep.
Birds are another pet that can help when someone is feeling stressed.
“I’ve always kind of had a bird in my house, and I like living with one,” Adrianna Giacona, junior, said, “Caring for [her] makes me feel like I’m doing something good with my life.” According to the Federal Law, birds can also supply the affection and support that a dog or a cat can have.
“[My bird has affected me] for the better, just because she’s amusing… she laughs and talks a lot. She [also] enjoys whistling for my dog,” Giacona said.
Guinea pigs may not be a fish or a bird (or a pig), but they still count as a pet.
“Owning a guinea pig has definitely given me a different look on pets because it’s not a dog or cat. I have learned a lot, like how much personality they have,” Dominic Bennett, junior, said, “I definitely think I have an emotional connection to my guinea pigs, especially my last one. I had a very big connection with [him], and with my current ones I still do,” Bennett said.
Pets, no matter the shape, size, or texture can all serve the same purpose. Having a friendly face and wagging tail or tiny squeak to come home to is a proven anecdote to help cope with stress and loneliness.

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