#HappyFacts: Friends Furever

Each week, Live Happy Radio presents #HappyFacts designed to enlighten, educate and entertain you. This week, we’re going to the dogs (and cats) with our pet-themed episode:

Pet more, stress less

We’re all stressed at one time or another, but if your child is feeling the effects of stress, some quality time with the family pet might be helpful. A study from the University of Florida found that pet dogs provide a great source of social support for children who are stressed. Middle school students in the study who interacted with their pet dog showed lower levels of the harmful stress hormone cortisol than students who weren’t engaged with a pooch.

Researchers pointed out that the study’s significance goes beyond understanding what our pets can do for us; middle childhood is a time when students are learning how to deal with stress, and those reactions and habits will shape their future. Providing them with a healthy way to buffer their stress responses could have a lasting positive effect.

Dogs don't get all the fun! Read about Norman the therapy pig.

Friends furever

We all know that social connections are key to our overall well-being and play a major role in both our physical and emotional health. But now there’s evidence that a four-legged friend could be just as good for us as our human counterparts.

Three different studies conducted by researchers at Miami University and Saint Louis University came to similar conclusions: people gain a tremendous sense of belonging from their pets. Maybe it’s the unconditional love, maybe it’s just having a companion in the home who is always happy to see you—but whatever it is, when we bond with our furry friends, evidence shows they are just as effective as a best (human) friend when it comes to providing us with that much-needed social connection.

Explore 5 ways our pets make us happy.

They call it puppy love

Finally, if you want to put some magic back in your marriage, maybe you should try looking at pictures…of puppies and bunnies. Yep, if you’ve lost that loving feeling, a few feel-good pictures of furry critters might light that spark again.

When Florida State University had study participants look at a stream of pictures of cute puppies and furry rabbits every few days over a period of six weeks. In addition to the cuddly creatures, researchers interspersed photos of the person’s spouse into some of the photo streams.

Over the course of the research, they found that spouses with pictures of their partner included in the photo stream registered more positive feelings toward their better half and reported greater marital satisfaction. And, we assume, there was also an increase in belly rubs.

Did you know cat videos are great for our happiness too?

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