A dog is a man’s best friend, but can it also be his—therapist?
We see photos and videos of cute animals on social media every day. Much of our enjoyment comes from our furry friends. However, we may be underestimating the role of animals in our lives. Little did we know that animal therapy could be the thing that saves us from despair.
Animal-assisted therapy, or animal therapy, is a therapeutic method that utilizes animals such as dogs, cats, birds, horses, and pigs. Its purpose is to help individuals recover from or cope with physical and mental health problems. Animal therapy has gained more popularity, especially since the pandemic took its toll on people’s well-being.
Animals are known to have the capacity to improve people’s mental health. Simply petting animals promotes the release of hormones that aid in relaxation and mood elevation.
Here are some of the mental health benefits of animal-assisted therapy:
- A decrease in anxiety
- Reduction of feelings of loneliness.
- People feel comfort.
- Increase in mental stimulation.
Aside from mental health, animal therapy also provides physical health benefits such as:
- Improvement of cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure.
- Reduction of overall physical pain
- Strengthening of the immune system
- Normalized breathing for anxious people.
Animal therapy can help those with Alzheimer’s disease, autism, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, or addiction. Likewise, animal therapy can be used by anyone having difficulties coping with adverse events and daily stressors. People who dislike, fear, or are allergic to animals may not be recommended for this intervention.
This article talks about how animals can help us cope with adversity and other frequently asked questions about animal therapy. Read the full article if you want to learn more about the wonders of animal therapy.
How does animal therapy work?
Also known as animal-assisted therapy or pet therapy, from the name itself, it is a form of treatment utilizing the support and comfort an animal can provide. Studies show that working or interacting with animals provides relief and produces a calming effect on humans.
What are the benefits of animal therapy?
Providing relief, lowering pain and discomfort, increasing an individual’s energy levels, reducing boredom, and improving social interactions are only some of the well-known benefits of animal therapy.
What types of therapy animals are there?
The most commonly used animals in pet therapy are dogs and cats. However, other animals such as fish, guinea pigs, horses, rabbits, parrots, and turtles are also used as therapy animals. These animals have to undergo an assessment, pass training, and be registered to work as therapy animals.
Where is animal-assisted therapy used?
Therapy animals offer special comfort and support in stressful environments such as hospitals, detention centers, and schools. They are not confused with service animals, who provide support usually to people with physical abilities, and emotional support animals, who are generally seen with individuals suffering from mental disorders.
How effective is animal-assisted therapy?
Many research found improvement in an individual’s well-being while undergoing animal-assisted therapy, rendering it an effective approach. Said individuals are noticed to have higher levels of endorphins, increasing their happiness and energy levels.
What animal is the most common type used in animal-assisted therapy?
As previously mentioned, dogs and cats are the usual animals used in animal-assisted therapy. Temperament is one of the most important traits a therapy animal should possess. They should be non-aggressive, friendly, and patient – all of which are characteristics manifesting in dogs and cats as they are domesticated pets.
What pet is best for depression?
The different types of therapy animals have their specialties. However, many prefer a pet dog, especially for an individual suffering from depression. Dogs are naturally empathic animals, so that they can determine mood changes in humans almost always instantly. They are proven to be good companions.
What’s the best therapy animal?
Like there is no best pet, there is also no best therapy animal. There are many factors to consider for the best criteria, and each therapy animals have their unique abilities and skills to showcase. Some would say dogs, as they are a man’s best friend. Some would prefer cats or birds, as these animals are usually low maintenance.
What animals are used for work?
To this day, many animals are used for work. Dogs are not only used as therapy, service, or emotional support animals, but they are also often working in the military or police as guard or combat animals. Farm animals such as horses, pigs, and cows, are used to help do agricultural work. At the same time, other animals such as elephants and seals are used for tourism purposes.
Can a lion mate with a tiger?
There is now a specific type of animal called liger, a hybrid offspring between a male lion and a female tiger. To answer the question, it is now possible for a lion to mate with a tiger.
How are animals used by humans?
Over the years, animals have been used and have helped humans in a lot of ways. Animals have been a source of food, clothing, transportation, and others. Some animals are held sacred in some religions, so they are worshipped. And nowadays, they are also essential components in helping humans do research, medicine, and science in general.
What are the four uses of animals?
Food, transport, safety and recreation, and clothing are the four primary uses of animals. Meat and dairy are from animals such as chickens and cows. Horses and camels are popular animals used for carrying people or goods from one place to another.
Dogs are kept pets to protect the house, and monkeys are often seen as circus shows for entertainment. Meanwhile, wools from sheep are made into clothes for people.
Why are animals important?
Animals are not only essential because they have a lot of use for the human population. They also contribute significantly to the world’s ecological balance, such as bringing nutrients, helping in decomposition and other scientific or natural processes, and a lot of different operations.
What can animals give us?
Animals fundamentally provide us with everything we may need in our lives, from clothes to transportation, labor, protection, food, and a lot more. Many of the products we have now are from animals.
What are the benefits of animals?
There are many benefits animals provide for us humans. One is a religious benefit, as in some religions, they are honored and believed to be powerful creatures. Another is practical benefits, wherein animals are used for labor and other domestic purposes. They also provide health benefits, as proven by animal therapy.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought overwhelming stress and anxiety. It has also kept us from employing some of our old coping strategies like meeting up with friends. Fortunately, we can still care for ourselves by applying new and safe coping strategies such as animal therapy.
So what should you expect when getting animal therapy? Some forms of animal therapy involve having a pet at your side all day for emotional support. Other forms may involve the animal visiting you or you visiting the animal.
Animal therapy patients often speak to an animal or in the presence of it. It aids in the patients’ emotional and cognitive processing because animals are non-judgmental and easy to open up to. Some patients can instantly feel comfort by merely lying down or cuddling with the animal.
Engaging the sense of touch is extremely helpful, especially when people have been deprived of it because of the lockdowns.
To maximize benefits, animal therapy often complements traditional therapies done by mental health professionals. If you’re looking for a therapy animal, contact your local mental health-care provider to help you find a program or animal that suits your needs.
Alternatively, you can consider getting a pet instead to keep you company during these difficult times. You’ll be surprised at how pets can improve your mental health. If you already have pets, you may certify or register them to be your own therapy or emotional support animals.
Remember that you don’t have to face life’s challenges alone. Things can get better with the help of some furry friends.