alternative treatments

Pets Can Improve Recovery of Heart Attack, Stroke Patients

Deanne Stein Health Guide May 08, 2007
  • I love animals, but sometimes I question why I’ve chosen to live with so many of them.  But then I come home from work and see their happy faces and tails wagging and then I realize they’re family.  That doesn’t mean I need any more of them.


    I have a medium sized mutt I saved from the pound, an auburn poodle I saved from a breeder and a cat I just picked up along the way.  I have a husband, 13-year-old son and a baby on the way to boot.  Just when I thought my life couldn’t get any fuller, my son brings home two goldfish in bags that he won at the school carnival.  I immediately told him “NO,” and that we would take them to a friend’s pond.  But both my son and husband have too soft of hearts for that to happen.  So, we went to the store and bought an aquarium.


    I had one condition, not to put it in my kitchen.  So, we stuck it in the dining room and it actually looks nice.  Sitting and watching the fish in the tank made me realize how therapeutic a fish tank can be.  In fact, I read where watching a fish tank filled with fish will at least temporarily lower the heart rate and blood pressure.


    Recent research has shown people who have suffered from heart attacks live longer when they have pets.  Pets are also used in therapy to help stroke victims or other disabled people.  This type of therapy can also lower blood pressure and make a patient feel better and more at ease again.  Pets also give you emotional support.  They sense when you’re happy, mad or sad.  They are always there to comfort us or play.


    Now even though it’s comforting to watch the new goldfish, they aren’t too cuddly.  So, that’s where my dogs come into play.  They give me enough licks and snuggle time to last a lifetime.  I’m now entering my fifth month of pregnancy and it’s as if they know it.  Both dogs are obsessed with my growing tummy, always crawling over to lay their heads on it.  The cat likes to perch on top like she’s on a pedestal.  Not the most comfortable, but it amuses me.


    For more information, visit http://www.petsastherapy.org/.