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Animal-Assisted Therapy Can Be A Please for Patients and Pets

Animal-Assisted Therapy Can Be A Please for Patients and Pets

Anyone with a pet knows animals can bring joy to human lives. You smile after a hard day’s work when you come home to your dog, waiting for you with tail wagging. Relaxation comes easy during a cuddle-session with your cat. Heck, even watching fish in a tank can temporarily lower blood pressure.

People in assisted-care facilities, whether they be elderly or ill, can also benefit from these animal-induced joys. In fact, lots of studies show that animal-assisted therapy, or pet-assisted therapy,  can greatly improve the lives of those with physical, mental and emotional problems. In fact, patients in hospitals and nursing homes who had regular visits from pets were more receptive to treatment and nourishment than those without pet visits. Animals, whether it be a dog, cat, bunny or lizard, can:

* Increase socialization among the patients, because they come out of their rooms to see and pet the visiting animal.

* Shake things up! Living in an assisted care facility can be dull, and having visits from an animal can create variety in the daily routine, as well as increase the residents’ interest in the world outside the facility. Visiting pets are a source of hope and expectation.

* Stave off depression. Who doesn’t smile when feeling a kitty purr in your lap or seeing a bunny twitch its little nose?

* Provide a source of communication. Animals can help people with speech impairment, whether just learning to speak or trying to speak again after suffering a stroke.

* Give people something to touch. Touch is a basic human need. And those who feel uncomfortable touching other people, like victims of abuse, or those who have lost their loved ones and feel like they have no one to hug or hold, can benefit from petting and holding an animal.

* Be a “safe place” and “security blanket” for abused children.

Volunteering with your pets is a great way for you (and your pet!) to get involved with community and help others. However, it’s important that your pet possess certain qualities, like having a calm, gentle personality, being people-oriented, and being conditioned to sudden noises. And of course, your pet should enjoy being touched and being around people. You can take these Care2 quizzes to see if your cat or your dog would make a good therapy pet.

And if he or she does, great! You can even get your pet certified with programs like The Delta Society’s Pet Partner Program or register with Therapy Dogs International. Your pet could bask in the spotlight and get lots of love, while providing therapy for others. Quite the win-win situation!

 

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photo from Khaleeka on Flickr

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158 comments

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10:06PM PDT on May 30, 2011

Once I have been in this program, pets were visiting to the hospitals and I think the talking birds are more attractive and favorite one amongst patients, because this the thing that they don't see everyday. These birds are really colorful and makes the person forget their stress or pain.
Animal assisted therapy

2:43PM PDT on Jun 20, 2010

I enjoyed the article noting the benefits of pet therapy as they all are so true. My own dog , Meeka, recently has earned therapy dog status and I have taken her a few times into nursing homes. Being a labradoodle, she has a wavy coat with long ears and a clown face. The patients get a real kick out of touching and looking at her. Their faces light up as they ask me questions about her and often recount memories of their own once owned dogs. Putting in the time and energy to have my dog trained was certainly worthwhile and enhances the pleasure of owning a very well mannered dog.

4:01PM PDT on Jun 5, 2010

Pets give us so much more than we give them.

4:16PM PDT on Jun 1, 2010

Animals give so much of themselves always. Therapy pets can work miracles on patients that would not and have not responded to previous methods. Animals are a true gift and should ALWAYS be treated as such. If only all people could appreciate them and treat them with respect and kindness~

10:05AM PDT on May 24, 2010

great for patient and animal...win/win situation

1:45PM PDT on May 14, 2010

Animal assisted therapy is a great benefit to both the animals and the human patients I've heard and I approve. If I had my own animal I'd be better off than I am now - with stress and depression...

9:22AM PDT on May 14, 2010

Thanks for the article

11:23AM PDT on May 8, 2010

It's amazing how animals can bring the most shy people out of their shells

6:09AM PDT on May 8, 2010

Animals are much better than us.They never kill for pleasure.A longtime friend of us can one day betray our trust but animals never will.Our dogs and cats and other animals trust us so completely.They belong so much to us that we feel loved in turn .They can fill the emptiness of our heart with the wonderful innocent looks on their eyes.Animals soothe our minds when we get tired of fighting in this fiercely competitive world.

5:17AM PDT on May 8, 2010

animals are wonderful companions and therapists! years ago my horse,Spirit (thus my e-mail address) literally "carried" me through some pretty rough teenage years, then my precious kitty,Cassie, got me through some hard young adult years. now my dog, Brandy, is always right by my side. they are Angels.

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