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Petting Dogs and Cats Relieves Stress

By Edda Bevilacqua

A study at Washington State University (WSU), called “Pet Your Stress Away,” encourages students to pet dogs and cats to relieve stress. The program allows students to interact with the animals and demonstrates the benefits of these interactions. Patricia Pendry, Associate Professor of Human Development, says, “Just ten minutes can have a significant impact.”

The study followed 249 college students grouped into four categories. The first group had direct contact with the animals for ten minutes and were given the chance to play with and pet the animals. The second group observed others interacting with the animals, the third group was shown a slideshow and the fourth waited for their turn to interact but didn’t have any real interactions with the animals.

It was shown that direct interaction with dogs and cats not only improved the students’ moods, but also lowered levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. The benefits were not only psychological, but also physiological. Interacting with animals contributes to overall life balances and enhances the ability to learn and work.