When Brown moved into her own apartment, she was depressed and had trouble sleeping. After she adopted two rescue kittens, she started sleeping better -- and feeling better, too. If I got out of bed just to go to the bathroom, my cats followed me.
Here, we review the evidence from 69 original studies on human-animal interactions HAI which met our inclusion criteria with regard to sample size, peer-review, and standard scientific research design.
Among the well-documented effects of HAI in humans of different ages, with and without special medical, or mental health conditions are benefits for: Limited evidence exists for positive effects of HAI on: We propose that the activation of the oxytocin system plays a key role in the majority of these reported psychological and psychophysiological effects of HAI.
Oxytocin and HAI effects largely overlap, as documented by research in both, humans and animals, and first studies found that HAI affects the oxytocin system. As a common underlying mechanism, the activation of the oxytocin system does not only provide an explanation, but also allows an integrative view of the different effects of HAI.
Introduction During the last decades, animal assistance in therapy, education, and care has greatly increased. Today, the value of animal-assisted interventions [AAI, including animal-assisted therapy AAT and activities] is widely acknowledged.
In the light of the rapid development of the practice of AAI, research evaluating the effects of AAIs as well as studies investigating the basic effects of human-animal interaction HAI and the underlying mechanisms seem to lag behind.
Still, there is already quite a body of scientific literature on this topic. However, this is spread out over a number of journals and fields, constraining an integrative view. In the following, we will provide an overview of studies assessing effects of AAI as well as pet ownership which meet certain scientific criteria.
In addition, we propose a common underlying mechanism for the majority of the positive effects of HAI: This system can be linked directly to many of the observed physiological effects of HAI and may also be indirectly associated with the other, mainly psychological, effects.
Thereby, we provide a coherent body of theory for integrating the diverse endocrinological, psychophysiological, and psychosocial effects of HAI found in different studies. Furthermore, we give a well-founded overview of scientifically documented effects of HAIs which today are a quite popular topic in the general literature, as are first speculations on underlying mechanisms including the oxytocin system e.
We will start our rationale with a review of the literature on effects of HAI and thereafter we will present a short overview of the oxytocinergic system and its psychophysiological effects.
We propose that oxytocin OT release may contribute to explain many of the effects of HAI documented by the studies included in our review. Criteria for Inclusion of Studies in This Review In this review we focus on the effects of HAI on psychosocial variables such as empathy and social interactions and on human physical and mental health, including effects on hormones and the autonomic nervous system assessed via variables such as heart rate or blood pressure.
Effects could result from either companion animal ownership or animal contacts, in experimental settings or animal-assisted interventions. Studies not directly related to these topics were excluded, for example, on pet ownership and attitudes toward smoking, or other variables which could indirectly influence health or social contacts e.
Furthermore, we excluded the following contexts: The prime criterion for inclusion was the publication of the original research in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Mainly Medline and PsychLit were used for the article searches. The second criterion was that the study design allowed to attribute any effect found with a high probability to the animal interaction rather than to any other possible confounding variable.
Hence, studies with a pre-post-measurement design, but without control group were excluded. The third criterion for inclusion was a sample size of at least 10 subjects per group.
Original studies included in the review.
Effects of Human-Animal Interaction Effects on Social Interaction Interacting with animals influences social interaction between humans and related factors important in this respect, such as trust, empathy, aggression, and a positive mood.
Increased positive social attention from others and stimulation of social behavior A relatively large body of research investigated the effect of a friendly animal on the perception of the human in its company and on the stimulation of social behavior.
Wells studied the behavior of strangers toward a female experimenter in six different conditions: In the alone condition, the experimenter was ignored more than with the teddy or plant, but got more attention in the company of a dog.
The Rottweiler led to more non-responses than the pup or the adult Labrador, which elicited most smiles and verbal responses. Also, in a classroom of first-graders, the presence of a dog was associated with increased attention toward the teacher in comparison to class in the absence of the dog Kotrschal and Ortbauer, Interaction with an animal is per se a form of social behavior.
The following research assessed the effect of animal presence on this aspect without further investigating effects in interpersonal behavior.
Children with autism interacted most frequently and for the longest periods with a real dog in comparison to objects or a person Prothmann et al. Also children with pervasive developmental disorders including autism were more playful in interaction with a live dog compared to toys, and also more aware of their social environment in the presence of the dog Martin and Farnum, The following studies focused on the facilitation of interpersonal interaction by the presence of an animal, the social catalyst effect.
Among children with autism the presence of a dog during occupational therapy was associated with greater use of language and more social interaction Sams et al. Similarly, therapeutic riding enhanced social motivation of children with autism Bass et al.aquariums on elders' stress.
Anthrozoos 4(1) 10 Odendaal, J. (). Animal-assisted therapy - magic or medi- Effects of dog ownership and genotype on immune development and atopy in infancy. 50 Barker, S.B., Pandurangi, A.K., & Best, A.M.
() Effects of animal-assisted therapy on patients' anxiety, fear, and depression before. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot attest to the accuracy of a non-federal website.
Linking to a non-federal website does not constitute an endorsement by CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the website. Learn more about the stress management and health benefits of pet ownership and see if it's the right choice for you!
Household Stress Effects on Health Management Techniques Situational Stress Job Stress Relationship Stress How Owning a Dog or Cat Can Reduce Stress By Elizabeth Scott, MS | Reviewed by Steven Gans, MD.
Updated September. Another study measured the bio-behavioral stress response, measured by systolic and diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, salivary cortisol, SBP, DBP, HR and self-reported anxiety and stress for therapy-dog owners interacting with their own dog and dog owners interacting with an unfamiliar therapy dog.
Jul 09, · Keywords: human-animal interaction, animal-assisted interventions, animal-assisted therapy, oxytocin, pet ownership, stress reduction Introduction During the last decades, animal assistance in therapy, education, and care has greatly increased.
The strength of the human animal bond has been known than many drugs taken for stress, since all of these effects occurred after only 5 to 24 minutes of pleasantly interacting with the dog.