Ditch Stress for Pets

Do finals have you stressed out and overwhelmed? Are you buried in projects and essays? Stress no more! Animal rescue organizations across the nation are bringing in their best workers for the job: puppies! Not only are these furry little guys adorable and playful, they also are scientifically proven to reduce stress!

This research is not new, however. “Studies going back to the early 1980s support the idea that dogs—and other pets—have enormous health benefits for people,” an article from Harvard Health Publications says. “Pets have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve recovery from heart disease, and even reduce rates of asthma and allergy in children.”

According to the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine, interacting with animals also increases people’s level of the hormone oxytocin. Also known as the “happy hormone,” oxytocin helps us feel joyful and trusting, direct opposites of the worry and discomfort that come with high stress.

Many organizations, including colleges and universities, are starting to bring in service animals in an effort to reduce workplace stress. Students at Harvard University, for example, have a special therapist on campus. His name is Cooper, and he can be checked out just like a library book.

Students and staff are able to spend up to 30 minutes with the fluffy Shih-Tzu, snuggling, playing or just relaxing. While most schools do not have an in-residence therapy dog yet, many others bring them in during finals week, arguably the most stressful week of the semester.

Having dogs on campus is a ‘win-win’ situation. Not only are students able to relieve stress, animals that are normally in shelters or foster care get the love and attention they deserve. Simply observing someone, especially college students, after they have pet a dog is evidence enough of their ability to reduce stress.