Pet therapy is a guided interaction between a person and a trained animal. It also involves the animal’s handler. The purpose of pet therapy is to help someone recover from or cope with a health problem or mental disorder.
Dogs and cats are most commonly used in pet therapy. However, fish, guinea pigs, horses, and other animals that meet screening criteria can also be used. The type of animal chosen depends on the therapeutic goals of a person’s treatment plan.
Pet therapy builds on the pre-existing human-animal bond. Interacting with a friendly pet can help many physical and mental issues. It can help reduce blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health. It can also release endorphins that produce a calming effect. This can help alleviate pain, reduce stress, and improve your overall psychological state.
Pet therapy can be used in many different ways. Defined objectives are an important part of therapy, and your progress will be recorded and tracked at structured sessions.
The goals of a pet therapy program can include:
- improving motor skills and joint movement
- improving assisted or independent movement
- increasing self-esteem
- increasing verbal communication
- developing social skills
- increasing willingness to join in activities
- improving interactions with others
- motivating willingness to exercise
Other benefits of pet therapy include:
- making you happier, lessening depression, and improving your outlook on life
- decreasing loneliness and isolation by giving you a companion
- reducing boredom
- reducing anxiety because of its calming effects
- helping children learn empathic and nurturing skills
- improving the relationship between you and your healthcare provide