Dogs and their people are happier and healthier with PetMassage

Animals – the Emotional and Biological Effect on humans:  It’s more than just caring

Full Title: Animals - the Emotional and Biological Effect on humans:  It’s more than just caring

Author: Elizabeth Fey

Date of Publication: November 22, 2017

PDF: https://petmassage.com/wp-content/uploads/Animals-the-Emotional-and-Biological-Effect-on-humans-It’s-more-than-just-caring.pdf

Research Paper Text:

Animals – the Emotional and Biological Effect on humans:  It’s more than just caring

Elizabeth Fey

November 22, 2017

Does interaction between humans and animals provide significant health benefits?  From the very early times, canines switched their allegiance from pack to man, domestic animals have served humans and, in some cases, formed emotional bonds with them.  In addition to their roles as companions and helpers, animals have also been thought to help the physically or mentally ill or disabled to cope or heal. Even before interest in health-promoting effects of human-animal interaction grew in the 1960s, animals had been used for therapeutic purpose.  “Being around dogs can have a calming effect,” pet writer Maryann Mott reported for National Geographic News years ago. “Studies have shown that physiological changes occur when people touch dogs: a drop-in heart rate, lower blood pressure, and reduced stress.”  While relatively limited, there is also evidence that supports tertiary evidence of other physiological changes that occurs with the reduction of stress-related parameters such as epinephrine and norepinephrine; improvement of immune system functioning and pain management; increased trustworthiness of and trust toward other persons; reduced aggression; enhanced empathy and improved learning. The theory is that the activation of the oxytocin system plays a key role in the majority of these reported psychological and psychophysiological effects of human-animal interfaces.

What we know:

There has been a steady growth trend relating to animal assistance in therapy, education and overall care and there has been numerous studies spread across several journals which appears to have a common underlying mechanism, the activation of oxytocinergic system and its role in social stress modulation.  This system can be linked directly to many of the observed physiological effects of human-animal interface and may also be indirectly associated with the other, psychological effects.

Literature Review:

There has been 69 original studies on the human-animal interface. Among the well-documented effects of human to animals of different ages, with and without special medical, or mental health conditions are benefits for: social attention, social behavior, interpersonal interactions, and mood; stress-related parameters such as cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure; self-reported fear and anxiety; and mental and physical health, especially cardiovascular diseases. Limited evidence exists for positive effects of human-animal interface on: reduction of stress-related parameters such as epinephrine and norepinephrine; improvement of immune system functioning and pain management; increased trustworthiness of and trust toward other persons; reduced aggression; enhanced empathy and improved learning. Studies analyze the impact of the oxytocin system which plays a key role in the majority of these reported psychological and psychophysiological effects of human-animal interface.  Oxytocin and human-animal interface effects largely overlap, as documented by research in both, humans and animals, and first studies found that human-animal interface 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 human-animal interaction.

Results:

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., 2006).  In psychiatric inpatients, animal assisted therapy lead to a significant increase in interactions with other patients over the course of 4 weeks.  This included smiles, sociability, helpfulness toward others, activation and responsiveness (Marr et al., 2000).  There is also supporting research by Hergovich et al. (2002) documented a positive effect of the presence of dogs in the classroom on the development of empathy in children. When compared to a control class, the class with the dogs showed higher scores in field independence and empathy toward animals.  In their meta-analysis Souter and Miller (2007) conclude that animal-assisted interventions have the potential to significantly reduce depressive symptoms.  Human-animal interaction has also been investigated for its effects on hormonal indicators of stress such as cortisol, and on neurotransmitters such as epinephrine and norepinephrine.  Odendaal (2000) and Odendaal and Meintjes (2003) assessed changes in plasma cortisol in dog owners when petting their own, or an unfamiliar dog, or quietly reading a book. The interaction with their own dog, and also with the unfamiliar dog, but not the reading condition led to a significant decrease in the cortisol levels of the humans.  A substantial number of well-designed studies investigated the effect of human-animal interface on blood pressure and heart rate, some also included skin temperature or skin conductance, either in the absence of a specific stressor or during a stress-inducing task. A positive attitude toward companion animals was associated with lower mean arterial pressure and systolic blood pressure. Vormbrock and Grossberg (1988) assessed heart rate and blood pressure while undergraduates interacted with a dog visually, verbally, or tactually. Blood pressure was highest while talking to the experimenter and lowest during stroking the dog.  Several studies also investigated whether animal contact can reduce fear and anxiety elicited by a stressor. The elderly residents of a nursing home with a resident dog, reported less tension and confusion in comparison to residents of a home without a dog. Also Perkins et al. (2008) and Filan and Llewellyn-Jones (2006) concluded from their reviews that dog-assisted therapy reduces restlessness in elderly patients with dementia.  Evidence for the effects of human-animal interface on cardiovascular diseases was gained from the following studies: Headey (1999) found that dog and cat owners were less likely to take medication for heart problems than non-pet owners.  Charnetski et al. (2004) reported a significant increase in salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA), an indicator of good immune system functioning, in college students after stroking a live dog in comparison to stroking a stuffed dog or sitting quietly for 18 min.  The peptide hormone oxytocin (OT) is produced in the hypothalamus and released into the circulatory system and the brain in response to sensory stimulation via a network of OT-containing nerves (Landgraf and Neumann, 2004; Ross et al., 2009), e.g., during breastfeeding, labor, sex, but also touch, warmth, and stroking, usually in the context of trusting relationships (for reviews see Uvnäs-Moberg, 2003; Insel, 2010). Many physiological, psychological and behavioral functions are modulated via OT, as has been shown via experimental administration of OT in animals and humans.  Odendaal (2000); Odendaal and Meintjes (2003) documented a significant increase of plasma OT, as well as prolactin, phenylacetic acid, and dopamine, in both, humans and dogs after 5 to 24 min of stroking a dog.

Discussion/Conclusion:

Existing evidence clearly points at the potential of interactions with animals, especially one’s own pet-dog, to increase OT levels in humans.  Both, human-animal interaction and OT, were found to promote social interaction, to reduce stress and anxiety, and to enhance human health. OT is released via eye contact, but in particular, via pleasant tactile interactions which seem to play a major role for the OT-mediated decrease of stress levels.  Oxytocin effects may be triggered in response to single meetings with animals, but stable relationships with animals such as pet ownership will be linked to more potent and long lasting effects due to repeated exposure to OT.

Reference/Bibliography:

Allen K., Blascovich J., Mendes W. B. (2002). Cardiovascular reactivity and the presence of pets, friends, and spouses: the truth about cats and dogs. Psychosom. Med. 64, 727–73910.1097/01.PSY.0000024236.11538.41 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Amico J. A., Mantella R. C., Vollmer R. R., Li X. (2004). Anxiety and stress responses in female oxytocindeficient mice. J. Neuroendocrinol. 16, 319–32410.1111/j.0953-8194.2004.01161.x[PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Banks M. R., Banks W. A. (2002). The effects of animal-assisted therapy onloneliness in an elderly population in long-term care facilities. J. Gerontol. A Biol. Sci. Med. Sci. 57, M428–M43210.1093/gerona/57.7.M428 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Barker S. B., Knisely J. S., McCain N. L., Best A. M. (2005). Measuring stress and immune responses in health care professionals following interaction with a therapy dog: a pilot study. Psychol. Rep. 96, 713–72910.2466/pr0.96.3.713-729 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Barker S. B., Pandurangi A. K., Best A. M. (2003a). Effects of animal-assisted therapy on patients’ anxiety, fear, and depression before ECT. J. ECT 19, 38–4410.1097/00124509-200303000-00008[PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Bass M. M., Duchowny C. A., Llabre M. M. (2009). The effect of therapeutic horseback riding on social functioning in children with autism. J. Autism Dev. Disord. 39, 1261–126710.1007/s10803-009-0734-3 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Beetz A., Kotrschal K., Hediger K., Turner D., Uvnäs-Moberg K. (2011). The effect of a real dog, toy dog and friendly person on inseucrely attached children during a stressful task: an exploratory study. Anthrozoos 24, 349–36810.2752/175303711X13159027359746 [Cross Ref]

Bernstein P., Friedmann E., Malaspina A. (2000). Animal-assisted therapy enhances resident social interaction and initiation in long-term care facilities. Anthrozoos 13, 213–22410.2752/089279300786999743 [Cross Ref]

Björkstrand A., Eriksson M., Uvnäs-Moberg K. (1996). Evidence of a peripheral and a central effect of oxytocin on pancreatic hormone release in rats. Neuroendocrinology 63, 377–38310.1159/000126978 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Cardoso C., Ellenbogen M. A., Linnen A.-M. (2011). Acute intranasal oxytocin improves positive self-perceptions of personality. Psychopharmacology 220, 741–74910.1007/s00213-011-2527-6[PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Carter C. S. (1998). Neuroendocrine perspectives on social attachment and love. Psychoneuroendocrinology 23, 779–81810.1016/S0306-4530(98)00055-9 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Charnetski C. J., Riggers S., Brennan F. X. (2004). Effect of petting a dog on immune system function. Psychol. Rep. 95, 1087–109110.2466/pr0.95.3f.1087-1091 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Coan J. A. (2008). “Toward a neuroscience of attachment,” in Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research and Clinical Application, 2nd Edn, ed. Cassidy J., Shaver P. R., editors. (New York: Guilford Press; ), 241–265

Cole K. M., Gawlinski A., Steers N., Kotlerman J. (2007). Animal-assisted therapy in patients hospitalized with heart failure. Am. J. Crit. Care 16, 575–585 [PubMed]

Colombo G., Buono M. D., Smania K., Raviola R., DeLeo D. (2006). Pet therapy and institutionalized elderly: a study on 144 cognitively unimpaired subjects. Arch. Gerontol. Geriatr. 42, 207–21610.1016/j.archger.2005.06.011 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Crowley-Robinson P., Fenwick D. C., Blackshaw J. K. (1996). A long-term study of elderly people in nursing homes with visiting and resident dogs. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 47, 137–14810.1016/0168-1591(95)01017-3 [Cross Ref]

Daly B., Morton L. L. (2006). An investigation of human-animal interactions and empathy as related to pet preference, ownership, attachment, and attitudes in children. Anthrozoos 19, 113–12710.2752/089279306785593801 [Cross Ref]

Demello L. R. (1999). The effect of the presence of a companion-animal on physiological changes following the termination of cognitive stressors. Psychol. Health 14, 859–86810.1080/08870449908407352 [Cross Ref]

Domes G., Heinrichs M., Michel A., Berger C., Herpertz S. C. (2007). Oxytocin improves “mind-reading” in humans. Biol. Psychiatry 61, 731–73310.1016/j.biopsych.2006.07.015 [PubMed][Cross Ref]

Dreifuss J. J., Raggenbass M., Charpak S., Dubois-Dauphin M., Tribollet E. (1988). A role of central oxytocin in autonomic functions: its action in the motor nucleus of the vagus nerve. Brain Res. Bull.20, 765–77010.1016/0361-9230(88)90089-5 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Fick K. M. (1993). The influence of an animal on social interactions of nursing home residents in a group setting. Am. J. Occup. Ther. 47, 529–53410.5014/ajot.47.6.529 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Filan S. L., Llewellyn-Jones R. H. (2006). Animal-assisted therapy for dementia: a review of the literature. Int. Psychogeriatr. 18, 597–61110.1017/S1041610206003322 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Friedmann E., Katcher A. H., Thomas S. A., Lynch J. J., Messent P. R. (1983). Social interaction and blood pressure: influence of animal companions. J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 171, 461–46410.1097/00005053-198308000-00002 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Friedmann E., Thomas S. A. (1998). “Pet ownership, social support, and one-year survival after acute myocardial infarction in the cardiac arrhythmia suppression trial (CAST),” in Companion Animals in Human Health, eds Wilson C. C., Turner D. C., editors. (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.), 187–201 [PubMed]

Garrity T. F., Stallones L., Marx M. B., Johnson T. P. (1989). Pet ownership and attachment as supportive factors in the health of the elderly. Anthrozoos 3, 35–4410.2752/089279390787057829 [Cross Ref]

Gee N. R., Church M. T., Altobelli C. L. (2010a). Preschoolers make fewer errors on an object categorization task in the presence of a dog. Anthrozoos 23, 223–23010.2752/175303710X12750451258896 [Cross Ref]

Gee N. R., Crist E. N., Carr D. N. (2010b). Preschool children require fewer instructional prompts to perform a memory task in the presence of a dog. Anthrozoos 23, 173–18410.2752/175303710X12750451258896 [Cross Ref]

Gee N. R., Harris S. L., Johnson K. L. (2007). The role of therapy dogs in speed and accuracy to complete motor skill tasks for preschool children. Anthrozoos 20, 375–38610.2752/089279307X245509 [Cross Ref]

Gee N. R., Sherlock T. R., Bennett E. A., Harris S. L. (2009). Preschoolers’ adherence to instruction as a function of presence of a dog and motor skill task. Anthrozoos 22, 267–27610.2752/175303709X457603 [Cross Ref]

Giaquinto S., Valentini F. (2009). Is there a scientific basis for pet therapy? Disabil. Rehabil. 31, 595–59810.1080/09638280802190735 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Grossberg J. M., Alf E. F. (1985). Interaction with pet dogs: effects on human cardiovascular response. J. Delta Soc. 2, 20–27

Handlin L., Hydbring-Sandberg E., Nilsson A., Ejdebäck M., Jansson A., Uvnäs-Moberg K. (2011). Short-term interaction between dogs and their owners – effects on oxytocin, cortisol, insulin and heart rate – an exploratory study. Anthrozoos 24, 301–31610.2752/175303711X13045914865385 [Cross Ref]

Headey B., Na F., Zheng R. (2008). Pet dogs benefit owners’ health: a “natural experiment” in China. Soc. Indic. Res. 84, 481–49310.1007/s11205-007-9142-2 [Cross Ref]

Heinrichs M., Baumgartner T., Kirschbaum C., Ehlert U. (2003). Social support and oxytocin interact to suppress cortisol and subjective responses to psychosocial stress. Biol. Psychiatry 54, 1389–139810.1016/S0006-3223(03)00465-7 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Hergovich A., Monshi B., Semmler G., Zieglmayer V. (2002). The effects of the presence of a dog in the classroom. Anthrozoos 15, 37–5010.2752/089279302786992775 [Cross Ref]

Jenkins J. (1986). Physiological effects of petting a companion animal. Psychol. Rep. 58, 21–2210.2466/pr0.1986.58.1.21 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Julius H., Beetz A., Kotrschal K., Turner D., Uvnäs-Moberg K. (2012). Attachment to Pets. New York: Hogrefe

Kotrschal K., Ortbauer B. (2003). Behavioral effects of the presence of a dog in a classroom. Anthrozoos 16, 147–15910.2752/089279303786992170 [Cross Ref]

Landgraf R., Neumann I. D. (2004). Vasopressin and oxytocin release within the brain: a dynamic concept of multiple and variable modes of neuropeptide communication. Front. Neuroendocrinol. 25, 150–17610.1016/j.yfrne.2004.05.001 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Miller S. C., Kennedy C., Devoe D., Hickey M., Nelson T., Kogan L. (2009). An examination of changes in oxytocin levels in men and women before and after interaction with a bonded dog. Anthrozoos 22, 31–4210.2752/175303708X390455 [Cross Ref]

Odendaal J. S. (2000). Animal-assisted therapy – magic or medicine? J. Psychosom. Res. 49, 275–28010.1016/S0022-3999(00)00183-5 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Olmert M. D. (2009). Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press

Parslow R. A., Jorm A. F., Christensen H., Rodgers B., Jacomb P. (2005). Pet ownership and health in older adults: findings from a survey of 2,551 community-based Australians aged 60-64. Gerontology 51, 40–4710.1159/000081433 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Paul E. S. (2000). Empathy with animals and with humans: are they linked. Anthrozoos 13, 194–20210.2752/089279300786999699 [Cross Ref]

Pedersen C. A., Ascher J. A., Monroe Y. L., Prange A. J., Jr. (1982). Oxytocin induces maternal behavior in virgin female rats. Science 216, 648–65010.1126/science.7071605 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Perkins J., Bartlett H., Travers C., Rand J. (2008). Dog-assisted therapy for older people with dementia: a review. Australas. J. Ageing 27, 177–18210.1111/j.1741-6612.2008.00317.x [PubMed][Cross Ref]

Petersson J., Lundeberg T., Uvnäs-Moberg (1999). Short-term increase and long-term decrease of blood pressure in response to oxytocin-potentiating effect of female steroid hormones. J. Cardiovasc. Pharmacol. 33, 102–10810.1097/00005344-199901000-00015 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Petersson J., Uvnäs-Moberg K., Erhardt S., Engeberg G. (1998). Oxytocin increases locus coeruleus alpha 2-adrenoreceptor responsiveness in rats. Neurosci. Lett. 225, 115–11810.1016/S0304-3940(98)00729-0 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Petersson M., Alster P., Lundeberg T., Uvnäs-Moberg K. (1996). Oxytocin increases nociceptive thresholds in a long-term perspective in female and male rats. Neurosci. Lett. 212, 87–9010.1016/0304-3940(96)12773-7 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Petersson M., Eklund M., Uvnäs-Moberg K. (2005). Oxytocin decreases corticosterone and nociception and increases motor activity in OVX rats. Maturitas 51, 426–43310.1016/j.maturitas.2004.10.005 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Petersson M., Hulting A., Andersson R., Uvnäs-Moberg K. (1999). Long-term changes in gastrin, cholecystokinin and insulin in response to oxytocin treatment. Neuroendocrinology 69, 202–20810.1159/000054420 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Poresky R. H., Hendrix C. (1990). Differential effects of pet presence and pet-bonding on young children. Psychol. Rep. 67, 51–5410.2466/pr0.1990.67.1.51 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Porges S. W. (2007). The polyvagal perspective. Biol. Psychol. 74, 116–14310.1016/j.biopsycho.2006.08.007 [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Porges S. W. (2009). “Reciprocal influences between body and brain in the perception and expression of affect: a polyvagal perspective,” in The Healing Power of Emotion: Affective Neuroscience, Development, Clinical Practice, eds Fosha D., Siegel D. J., Solomon M. F., editors. (New York: Norton; ), 27–54

Shiloh S., Sorek G., Terkel J. (2003). Reduction of state-anxiety by petting animals in a controlled laboratory experiment. Anxiety Stress Coping 16, 387–39510.1080/1061580031000091582 [Cross Ref]

Souter M. A., Miller M. D. (2007). Do animal-assisted activities effectively treat depression? A meta-analysis. Anthrozoos 20, 167–18010.2752/175303707X207954 [Cross Ref]

Stallones L., Marx M. B., Garrity T. F., Johnson T. P. (1990). Pet ownership and attachment in relations to the health of U.S. Adults, 21 to 64 years of age. Anthrozoos 4, 100–11210.2752/089279391787057206 [Cross Ref]

Straatman I., Hanson E., Endenburg N., Mol J. (1997). The influence of a dog on male students during a stressor. Anthrozoos 10, 191–19710.2752/089279397787001012 [Cross Ref]

Uvnäs-Moberg K., Handlin L., Petersson M. (2011). “Promises and pitfalls of hormone research in human-animal interaction,” in How Animals Affect Us, eds McCardle P., McCune S., Griffin J. A., Maholmes V., editors. (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; ), 53–81

Vormbrock J. K., Grossberg J. M. (1988). Cardiovascular effects of human-pet dog interactions. J. Behav. Med. 11, 509–51710.1007/BF00844843 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Wells D. (2007). Domestic dogs and human health: an overview. Br. J. Health Psychol. 12, 145–15610.1348/135910706X103284 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Wells D. (2009). The effects of animals on human health and well-being. J. Soc. Issues 65, 523–54310.1111/j.1540-4560.2009.01612.x [Cross Ref]

Winefield H. R., Black A., Chur-Hansen A. (2008). Health effects of ownership of and attachment to companion animals in an older population. Int. J. Behav. Med. 15, 303–31010.1080/10705500802365532 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

 

Leave a Reply