We all know what happens when you give a mouse a cookie, and when you introduce snakes on a plane. But what about if you give a cow some cuddles? Well, according to those who are out hugging cows, you’re the one who gets the benefits.
Using animals in therapy isn’t a new idea. And while cow cuddling might be called one of the newest animal health and wellness trends. According to the BBC, “koe knuffelen,” (literally translated as cow hugging) has been happening across the Dutch countryside for over a decade.
The practice began in the rural Dutch provinces, part of a movement to get more people into nature and enjoying the fresh air of country life.
Cuddles with cows
A cow cuddling experience generally begins with a tour of the farm where the cattle live. Next, participants can snuggle up to Ol’ Bessie and spend a few hours cozied up to their large warm bodies.
“The cow’s warmer body temperature, slower heartbeat and mammoth size can make hugging them an incredibly soothing experience, and giving the animal a backrub, reclining against them or even getting licked is all part of the therapeutic encounter,” the BBC says.
Apparently, the soothing snuggle isn’t just beneficial to the human, according to a 2007 study published by the Applied Animal Behaviour Science that domesticated animals often show signs of pleasure and relaxation when people rub, massage, or pet them.
According to the team of French and Austrian scientists, humans who interacted and cuddled cows experienced lower heart rates. They also showed more physical signs of relaxation.
“This suggests that cows may in part perceive human stroking of body regions often licked similarly to social licking,” they write. “This knowledge could be of interest for an improvement in quality of human–cattle interactions.”
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