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The magic of pets

   As the new crown pneumonia epidemic rages, people on social media continue to chant "give me a cat or a dog", or to put it another way, "help me, I'm not feeling well". Netizens will always reply to a lot of pictures of animals doing silly things - it looks silly, but it really seems to have a magical power that can calm people's moods. is this real?

  The therapeutic role of pets is gaining increasing attention from researchers, especially dogs. Cats do the same thing, but dogs have been domesticated for a longer time, and even true cat lovers have to admit that dogs are easier to keep company with. And we all know that most cats are loved not for their company of humans. Marion Jenner has been calling attention to mental health. She loves animals and always says dogs can teach people a lot. "Dogs love us unconditionally. They are truly equal and don't care about your race, gender, zodiac sign, resume, size or whether you can dance. This simple and deep love is the source of human happiness. Walking the dog every day and chatting with other dog walkers is also effective in promoting health. Dogs also make children more selfless, responsible and compassionate, and more importantly, teach them what to do when a loved one dies, Of course, it's kind of sad," Jenner said.

  Robert Dould was suffering from health problems at one point, and it was the wonderful role of pets that saved him. "I was working very hard during that time, working overtime non-stop. Suddenly one day, I started crying non-stop and couldn't speak a complete sentence. I pushed myself too hard and couldn't hold on any longer."

  Later, he had some therapy, changed jobs, adjusted his life, and it took him a long time to finally recover. But he said half-jokingly that what really worked was a Greek search-and-rescue dog named Maria. "Just taking him out for a walk, getting some fresh air, and walking in front of him makes me feel better," Doulder said. "It's an unparalleled feeling when he's snuggling next to you, even when you're in bad shape. It also stares at me anxiously, as if sensing something. It makes me want to laugh, and somehow I feel better. The dog really has a magical power, and it helps me.

  " Why? Why do pets have this therapeutic effect? One big reason is social proof—the process of recognizing that others are important to you. The emotional bond between pet and owner looks much like that between mother and child.

  It is increasingly recognized that social proof is important for people to connect. We know that healthy social relationships are critical to mental health, and without healthy social relationships, people can feel lonely, depressed, and even have physical problems. And pets can just take on this task. Psychologist Joan McNicholas points out that pets can be a lifesaver for people who live alone.

  "Taking care of pets and taking care of yourself are often inextricably linked. When you walk your dog, someone will talk to you, which may be the only opportunity for someone who lives alone to communicate. If you have a cat, pick out cat food at the supermarket. May have discussions with others about which brand to buy. Pet owners generally buy something for themselves when they buy food for their pets, and also eat something for themselves when they feed their pets. It can be a little awkward for people to get along with, but if the disabled person happens to have a dog, it’s easy for both parties to break down the barrier and the conversation is more comfortable and natural,” says McNicholas.

  Humans and some mammals, such as sheep and prairie voles, need social proof. We prioritize people with whom we have social connections, just as we don't carelessly take care of other people's children or leash the dog home from the park. Researcher Meg Olmert says the reason we call dogs our "children" is because spiritually we do. This recognition activates the area of ​​the brain responsible for maternal love, and it is because of the activity in this area that mothers look at their slippery newborn babies and sincerely say, "This is my baby!"

  Research The researchers did MRIs of the brains of 18 women and found that when they looked at their children and pet dogs, areas of the brain associated with reward, emotion and belonging responded the same way. However, there were significant differences: pets evoked responses in the fusiform gyrus (mainly responsible for face recognition), and children evoked responses in the tegmental gyrus (reward and belonging centers). We love our pets, but if we are really in danger, we will save our children first.

  Scientists only know a little about social identity and its corresponding brain parts, but they still don't fully understand how it works. One possibility is that we don't know enough about oxytocin. This hormone responsible for "cuddling," "loving," and "snuggling" plays an important role in production, lactation, and sperm motility. In addition, oxytocin has received increasing attention for its important role in social behavior, acting like a chemical messenger, signaling in the neural pathways that govern sexual impulse, identification, trust, mother-baby, and pet-human connections .


A child with Down syndrome plays with a therapy dog ​​at a rehabilitation facility in Bucharest, Romania.


  Oxytocin often works with vasopressin to help us cope with stress and social problems. Scientists have also found that oxytocin may be associated with addiction, brain damage, anorexia, depression, autism and severe anxiety.

  Pets have other benefits for human mental health. Taking a dog as an example, in addition to relieving stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness, walking a dog is also beneficial to people: going out for a walk every day, playing a game of picking up balls with pet dogs, and even shoveling shit can give the body a comprehensive exercise .

  These findings have now been applied to real-world scenarios with promising results. For example, a mental health center that evaluated therapy dogs in prisons received far more feedback than expected. One prisoner said: "I don't know why, but I feel so good and calm when I play with these dogs." Another said: "Dogs have a magic power that makes you feel their love for you, which makes Puts you in a better mood." The

  researchers found that this mood didn't go away after the dog left. "I've been so happy all day," says one inmate.

  Britain has four high-security mental hospitals that house some of the country's most dangerous and violent mental patients, most of them schizophrenia. The average length of hospital stay was seven years. Among them, the hospital in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, has an animal treatment centre where patients can participate in the care of chipmunks, rabbits, hens, geese, pygmy goats and pigs.

  Staff say animal therapy has a significant effect on patients who are difficult to treat with traditional medicine and talk therapy. It can help them develop problem-solving skills, empathy and responsibility, guide them to pay attention to the needs of others and learn to release extreme emotions. .

  What if there are no pets? Is there a way to replicate these effects of pets? Oxytocin sprays or tablets may be a more feasible option. But turning naturally occurring oxytocin into a commodity is difficult, says biologist Sue Carter. Oxytocin is chemically unique and can change form, making it difficult to process and quantify. What's more, oxytocin's effects vary by environment and gender, and can be different for everyone.

  In contrast, it may be more reliable to look at your pet dog than to eat any synthetic drugs.


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