Are you dealing with extreme levels of emotional stress, exhaustion or depression? If so, pet therapy might be right for you. Companionship is only one of the many benefits pet therapy provides. Keep reading to find out what pet therapy involves, which conditions it can help treat and why you might benefit from it.
What is pet therapy?
You may have heard the term “pet therapy” before, but do you know what it entails? Pet therapy is a guided interaction between a trained animal and a person. It is often a good way to help the latter cope with a health problem or disorder. Cats and dogs are the most common animals involved in pet therapy, but others can also participate in the program. Horses, fish, guinea pigs and dolphins are just a few of the many animals known to assist in therapy.
What conditions can it help treat?
The first step in pursuing pet therapy is to visit your doctor to determine if this is the best treatment option for your needs. If pet therapy is appropriate for you, your doctor will recommend the next steps to take.
Individuals suffering from the following conditions have benefited from pet therapy:
- Emotional or behavioral disorders
- Chronic pain
- Psychiatric disorders
While pet therapy is known to assist individuals with any of the listed conditions, it is not limited to them. If you feel that you may benefit from pet therapy, please contact your doctor to discuss the matter further.
How can it help me?
Pet therapy has been credited with many benefits that stem from cultivating a strong bond between a human and an animal. Here are some of the benefits associated with pet therapy:
- Increased focus and attention
- Reduced anxiety, fear and isolation
- Reduced blood pressure, depression and risk of a heart attack or stroke
- Improved social skills
- Increase in trust and empathy
Another benefit of a pet therapy program is that it enhances a human’s ability to bond with animals, which promotes emotional awareness, compassion and social skills. As a result, participants are often less hesitant about undergoing medical treatments for their health condition.
How your pet can help others
While you may not require pet therapy, your pet may be able to help someone else suffering from a health problem or disorder. Your pet will have to take part in a selection process to determine if he or she is suitable for therapy. First, your pet will undergo a physical exam to ensure that it is immunized and disease free. From there, your pet will be trained in obedience, patient interaction, and temperament before being considered for certification.
If you feel your pet may be a good candidate for pet therapy, contact your veterinarian for more information or for suggestions on who to contact to discuss training and qualifications.