As patient advocates, we know personally and professionally the benefits pets bring to our lives. Pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy (AAT), is a therapeutic approach that involves interacting with animals to improve a person’s physical, emotional, social, and cognitive well-being. Pets, typically dogs or cats, are trained to provide comfort, support, and companionship to individuals in various settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and rehabilitation centers.
Why choose pet therapy?
Here are the top 5 reasons we believe pet therapy can support overall health:
- Support your emotional well-being: Interacting with animals can evoke positive emotions, such as joy, happiness, and a sense of calm. Pets provide unconditional love and nonjudgmental companionship, which can help reduce feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Petting or cuddling an animal releases endorphins and promotes relaxation, leading to improved mood and emotional well-being.
- Support your physical health: Petting a dog or cat is shown to lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, and decrease stress levels. Walking or playing with a therapy dog can also promote physical activity and improve cardiovascular fitness. In some cases, interacting with animals has been linked to pain reduction and improved motor skills.
- Support socialization and communication: Animals in pet therapy can act as social catalysts, facilitating human interactions and encouraging socialization. Pets can provide a common topic of conversation and a source of connection with others. Pets offer a non-threatening and comforting presence which can help break down communication barriers.
- Support cognitive stimulation: Interacting with pets may enhance memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. Activities such as training, grooming, or playing games with a therapy animal can promote cognitive engagement and provide a sense of purpose.
- Support motivation and morale boost: Individuals may look forward to their interactions with therapy animals, providing them with a sense of anticipation and purpose. Pets can also serve as a source of encouragement during challenging or difficult tasks, providing emotional support and motivation to overcome obstacles.
Pet therapy is conducted under the guidance and supervision of trained professionals. The specific benefits experienced may vary depending on an individual’s needs and the nature of the therapy program. Overall we know that pets provide health benefits.
But what about my own pet!?!?!?
Many who are in various medical facilities have asked if their own pet can come for a visit. Of course, this depends on the facility’s policies, but we have experienced in the past, patient’s own pets being brought in and it always seems to help and benefits the patient and the pet.