THREE REASONS WHY HAVING PHOTOS OF YOUR PET IS RIGHT FOR YOUR HEALTH
At times, we all get caught up in the stress of our modern-day lives. Looking at pictures of our furry loved ones makes one remember the simple things that bring joy and calm to life. So, how is it that just looking or interacting with our pets makes us feel better?
We have a natural predisposition to be attracted to specific facial features present in our companion pets.
Research has shown that humans tend to be drawn to a set of facial characteristics associated with infancy and youth. When we see an animal with facial features such as a large head, round face, large eyes and a small nose and mouth, it triggers a releasing mechanism for care-giving and affective orientation toward that animal. Studies have confirmed that faces with infantile traits are perceived as "cute" and are preferred over those with less delicate facial features. These infantile facial features are often present in companion animals. They may contribute to our attraction to these animals and be a reason for our motivational drive to pet-keeping and pet-caretaking.
Interacting with our pets triggers a chemical change in our bodies.
Studies have found that levels of the hormone oxytocin increase after we interact with our pets. Oxytocin is a powerful hormone involved in social bonding and maternal attachment. In 2015, scientists demonstrated that sustained eye contact between a dog owner and his dog resulted in higher oxytocin levels in both the dog and the owner. Also, sniffing oxytocin increased gazing in dogs, an effect that transferred to their owners. The release of this hormone results in physical and chemical changes that slow the heart rate and block the production of stress hormones, creating a sense of calm, comfort and focus. Other studies have revealed that both owners and dogs experienced higher levels of oxytocin, beta-endorphin, prolactin, and dopamine after a positive interaction between dog lovers and dogs. Both endorphin and dopamine are fundamental to our sense of well-being.
An image of our pet can profoundly affect the activity and biochemistry of our brains.
In addition to the hormonal changes, behavioural studies looking at brain activity demonstrate that specific parts of the brain are activated when people look at their pets. The brain activity of mothers as they viewed their child and dog's images identified similarities in the perceived emotional experience and brain function associated with the mother-child and mother-dog bond. The participants reported similar pleasantness and excitement ratings for their child and dog. The results show that the direct interaction and the thought or image of your dog can activate a hormonal response and brain activity related to affiliation, reward, and emotion.
Our pets are like family to us. Why not celebrate it!
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