Benefits of Pet Therapy

Therapy dog with elderly patient

Photo by Zachary Wolf

Pet therapy is a broad term that includes animal-assisted therapy and other animal-assisted activities. It is essentially a type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment and rehabilitation. Patients in hospitals or nursing homes can benefit from pet therapy, especially children and the elderly. 

Animals have been a benefit to human’s well being for thousands of years. Only in recent decades have they been recognized for the physical and mental health benefits they give people and pet therapy might be recommended by a doctor.

Benefits of pet therapy

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Decreasing effects of depression
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Improves social skills
  • Improves motor skills and joint movement
  • Increases verbal communication
  • Increases willingness to join in activities
  • Decreases loneliness and isolation
  • Can provide motivation to exercise
  • Helps teach empathy and nurturing skills

People who benefit from pet therapy

  • Stroke victims
  • Children having dental procedure
  • People undergoing chemotherapy
  • Residents in long-term care facilities
  • People hospitalized with chronic heart failure
  • Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder
  • People hospitalized with chronic heart failure
  • Children having physical or dental procedures
  • People undergoing physical therapy
  • Patients working to regain motor skills
  • People with mental health disorders
  • People suffering from suicidal thoughts

Could pet therapy be of benefit to you?

You should ask your doctor, therapist or caregiver if pet therapy could be of benefit to you. They could recommend a certified pet therapy organization for you to get in touch with. 

Even if you don’t suffer from some of the more serious issues above, any pet owner can tell you how they benefit from their animal friends. If you are physically capable of caring for a pet yourself, you can get a dog, cat or other pet to be your companion. They will keep you company, ease stress and depression and maybe help you meet new people. 

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