Companion animals have the power to help us combat stress, reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure. Your doctor might not prescribe a cat to lower cholesterol or a dog to relieve depression, but the animals that share our homes have a remarkable power to help us heal.

Research shows that walking the dog is a more reliable and enjoyable way to get your exercise than stepping on a treadmill. How else do animals enhance our health?

Guest: Marty Becker, DVM, is called America’s veterinarian because of his frequent appearances on Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. Dr. Becker practices at the North Idaho Animal Hospital in Sandpoint, Idaho. His books include The Healing Power of Pets, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul and Your Dog. His website is

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. Podcasts can be downloaded for free for six weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Cheryl

    Great show. It’s about time people hear the real story about how pets can increase the life of humans. I could never live without my dogs and cats. Since I was a little girl I brought animals home who were lost and to this day we have 3 rescue dogs, 3 rescue cats and 1 Golden Retriever. There is nothing like a cold wet nose and a waggy tail to bring happiness and joy.

  2. Sonia

    I started sobbing halfway through this show, much like Dr. Becker I suppose, and many of the other listeners. Thank you for reminding me that my life has not been as rich with companionship since Orville, my cat of 18 years — who may have been older but I’ll never know, since he was found on the streets of Kitty Hawk, thus obtaining his official name, as well as deserving his moniker, Kitty — died last August.
    My blood pressure has elevated since then and I will reconsider getting pets again. Honestly, the connection had never occurred to me. Thank you, All!
    PS: I am a lifelong dog person; not a cat person. This feline insinuated himself upon me, following me wherever I went that fateful day. He was either smitten by me, or he recognized a sucker when he saw one, and I rather suspect the latter! Witnesses cheered me on at the sidelines, when they saw the scenario. When one of them sensed my reluctance and actually offered to give me her cat carrier plus a litter box so we could make the 7-hour ride back home, I could resist no longer. I will head to our local shelter asap to look for both a dog and a cat.

  3. Betty Gleason

    Agree with everything on today’s program. Dr. Becker added his voice to the wonderment about young girls attachment to horses. In my unscientific survey the response has always been that they find beauty, grace & power in the horse, all things even young girls know they need to succeed. But it is mostly managing the power that empowers them to conquer life’s problems.

  4. Rachel

    I listened with joy as Dr. Becker spoke about the power of pets to help with healing. He discussed how pets learn from our body language and behaviors. No where have I read about the coherence between heart power between pets and people. The heart is much more powerful than the brain in sending out electromagnetic signals (well beyond our physical bodies) and coordinating hormone secretions and other body regulations. Could it be that when the horse, cat, or dog approaches us it is the coherence of our hearts that cause healing, ease, and joy !

  5. rafalskys

    Thank you. I will be buying at least three copies of Dr. Marty Becker’s book.

  6. Susan L.

    I learn so much from your shows. Sometimes it confirms my intuition and other times provides direction for problems I am experience or someone close to me. I am going to make my husband listen, who had an aortic valve replacement 8 months ago, so that I can have a cat. I have a horse and that is so wonderful, but really miss the in-house companion as he travels so much. This program will help him accept this new family member.

  7. Anne D.

    We have s Sign Company and have a “Shop Cat’ [which we call ‘the dog’ because he is HUGE]. Buddy is part Ragdoll and Silver Persian. We put him in prison [the bathroom] when customers say they are allergic to cats. So one day, customer came in, said he was allergic – we put Buddy in the john. Customer came in to pick his order up… we grabbed Buddy to put him in prison, but the customer said – ‘you don’t have to do that’. “I thought you were allergic.” said I. “yes, I am” said he, “but I’m not allergic to THAT cat!” So he does us ALL good. If you took attachments, I would put one here – and he is beautiful – more hair than the law allows! Thanks for a GREAT program.

  8. Anne A.

    Excellent program! I found myself smiling and tearing up at all the stories. I too have experience with dogs, cats and horses from an early age. I didn’t realize the horse I had at age 15 would help me overcome shyness and encourage self esteem and confidence but she did. Many wonderful life memories for all of us are tied to our friends in the animal world. Thank God for all of them as they bless our lives at all stages and ask so little in return.

  9. Jen Huff

    Really enjoyed the section about the ‘healing’ power of purring cats. I am 45 and back in school–my cat stays by my side or at my feet while I study, regardless of how late, even 3 a.m., and keeps me company. Once I’m done, he stretches and goes to my daughter’s room, where he normally sleeps. I have a study buddy–and it keeps me less stressed and less lonely.

  10. rcc

    Loved your show, have believed this was true for years… wonder if you know how to convince a very animal averse condo board to listen to this very good advice, and give me some pointers on how to change the rules… the condo had 300+ units and is in the oldest square mile within the contiguous US in Fla. where lots of folks could really benefit from having a small companion animal. I can see the point of lots of barking critters and other arguments against dogs & cats; we don’t live there all the time, only in winter, and would love to bring our small dogs there and be very responsible about their litter and barking as would others who have fought this issue for years. Any word of advice would be read and appreciated… and maybe this is one battle to not fight… thanks for great programs! RCC

  11. lindsay

    i am an RN. i watched my grandfather decline and die from ALS when i was younger. his motor neurons had completely stopped working, but we knew he was still there. my sister and i had just gotten new kittens. the hospital staff let us bring them in. we put the kittens on his stomach. he couldn’t move, couldn’t smile, couldn’t laugh. but i saw in his eyes something only someone who loved and knew him could’ve seen. he was happy. i was happy he died that way and not alone.

  12. MW

    I truly believe in the power of pet therapy. I’ve had dogs, cats and other pets throughout my life. After the 9/11/01 tragedy, the Family Assistance Center in NYC had many forms of counseling and therapy available to those of us who lost loved ones. The “assistance” most helpful to me was the simple presence and all-encompassing love shown by the animals present as comforters to those of us grieving this tragedy. More than the human counselors, the dogs simply allowed us to be, to grieve in whatever way we chose. These dogs were more helpful than psychologists, ministers, counselors, or any other assistance offered at the Family Assistance Center. And that special therapy is what I remember the most of that venue.

  13. Eva Ries

    I love my pet duck! She’s definitely a center for interaction with other folks when we’re out and about. Folks love to come over and admire her, ask questions about her, and try to ‘make friends’ with her (hold hand out to let her come over and greet them). Definitely concur with the discussion on the show that companion animals help humans socialize with other animals and each other and encourage feelings of love, affection and altruism. Seems we as humans definitely benefit from their presence, though I do wonder if they benefit from being around us (not sure they really always do). Great show, thanks for bringing that topic to us!

  14. HM

    Thank you so much for this show. I grew up in an alcoholic home and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in my 20s, and though there are many things I draw on to be healthy, nothing has helped me heal like my two dogs and two cats, and being in nature among animals. Though once disconnected from any spiritual practice, 3 yrs ago I started a form of meditation that connects us with different animals’ energy for guidance and healing, which has also had a profound effect on my life.

  15. Kathy B

    The Healing Power of Pets show talked about a pheromone spray that was used to keep cats calm at a photo shoot. Our doxie hates being in the car. She shakes, pants and generally is miserable. Is there a pheromone spray for dogs?
    Thanks, Kathy B

  16. Diana

    When I was in my 20’s, my first husband passed away unexpectedly. I returned to our hometown for the funeral, and ended up staying at my parents house during that week. My parents owned a small poodle named Popcorn at that time… I hadn’t seen Popcorn in years, and wasn’t sure she would remember me!
    During the whole week of going through the mourning rituals, the dog would not leave my side! She followed me all over the house, and at night, crawled in bed and snuggled right next to me… she even had a somber look in her eyes that almost said ‘its going to be okay – I’m here’ – Popcorn has since passed, but I have never forgotten her kindness to me when I truly needed that comfort of her presence – is it possible for animals to sense when we are sad or ill? I wonder…

  17. John in SC

    I turned 69 last month, my wife is 63, and I’m confident that riding our horses has contributed greatly to maintaining good health and sanity. Two weeks ago I met a man who is now 71 and is still playing polo, as he has for the past 40 years. Leo had serious injuries (including broken neck vertebrae) in a fall off a horse some years back, but he still plays polo regularly – and fox hunts with his hunt club, who are all seniors. We also have 2 cats & 2 dogs. All our critters make our lives much richer than they would be without them.

  18. Siglinda Scarpa

    Thank you so much for this morning program. I am the founder of the largest, no kill, Shelter in NC: The Goathouse Refuge. We receive, every day, phone calls from people who wants to “get rid” of their cats for various reasons, the most common is allergies. Real or not, we have the Refuge full of cats that have been abandoned by their families.
    Many of those poor creatures are desperate for months, refusing to eat, hiding under blankets, crying for their families. All we can do is care for them, hold them, give them all the attention we can. Some need to be forced to eat for a long time.
    Your program and the book of Dr. Marty Becker are important tools to help people to understand animals and the value of the relationship with them.
    When my daughter was 1 month old, I found a few weeks old kitten in a park in Rome, Italy, he slept with her and grew up with her. Whenever she would cry he would jump next to her and comfort her and she would stop crying. He became a very big tabby cat and was her inseparable beloved companion. Never she became sick because of the cat, actually, I know, she was healthier because of the emotional support he always gave her and because she grew a strong immune system by being in a clean but not sterilized environment. I, personally learned to be patient, to listen, to pay attention and to love from all the wonderful animals in my whole life. I am going to put a link to your program on our web-site.
    Thank you !
    Siglinda Scarpa
    Goathouse Gallery and Refuge
    680 Alton Alston Rd
    Pittsboro, NC 27312

  19. Joni M.

    I have done pet therapy with my 93 pound doberman pinscher for many years at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, NC. I and my group, Paws for All, can tell many stories confirming Dr. Becker’s experiences. For example, getting a 6 year old girl to walk by asking her to “walk the dog.”
    Another experience was a father going off with my dog in the critical care waiting room to “talk” to him about his fears relating to his very ill son in the ICU. He wouldn’t talk to anyone else about it.
    Some of our dogs have laid with seriously ill children while the were given painful treatments over several hours to help them lie still. The dogs also raise the spirits of the elderly in assisted living and memory care units in retirement homes.
    Never mind how much fun they are at home. Also, my daughter’s horse helped her grow up to be a responsible, caring person.
    Dr. Becker confirmed my and others experiences with animals. Kudos to him and you.

  20. Janina

    Loved this show. We have 4 dogs, 2 cats, and lots of visiting backyard birds. I guess that means we have quite a few consulting practitioners!
    However, last week’show, 809, was very helpful for me. We began taking responsibility for our health some years ago, and I’m so in tune with your comments.

  21. Mary

    I love this show! I have horses, dogs and cats and it is so true the love and comfort they bring to us, just by being themselves.
    Thank you!

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.