Pet therapy is one of the methods in rehabilitation and psychotherapy. Scientists began to develop this area in the 1960s: they noted that the presence of a dog helps to establish contact with a child with autism. Animals also help children not be afraid of painful procedures. Even a small aquarium in the lobby of a clinic or medical center should already slightly reduce fear.

What is Pet Therapy

People turn to animals for help in a variety of situations, such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and even after a stroke. Pet therapy is used for diseases that are not related to the nervous system. Still, in cases when the patient has an increased risk of developing depression due to long-term treatment – for example, cancer or palliative medicine. Scientists noted more than half a century ago, that animals help to communicate with people with different features – for example, autism. And of course, animals are used to treat mental disorders, from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder. While animals have great mental health benefits, if you feel that you need to talk to a licensed mental health professional to work through how you are feeling, reach out to BetterHelp today.

How it Works

For specific work with patients, it is better to use animals that can be trained: horses, dolphins, dogs, pigs. But fluffy rodents, birds, lizards, and other animals, even donkeys, also help fight diseases.

Dogs

Dogs

Dogs are the most prominent therapists and companions among pets. They help to cope with depression, quickly calm down in a stressful situation, and feel protected. For example, having a dog imposes several obligations: you need to walk the dog, pick up a leash, and find the strength to go outside. This is physical activity, which is useful, and dog owners, especially those who love walking, are more likely to maintain health, even if they do not play sports. Also, dogs can sometimes play the role of a psychotherapist: people can tell the dog things that they do not dare to say to another person.

Horses

Horses

But pet therapy also has options that depend on the particular animal. For example, hippotherapy – treatment using horse riding – is recommended for such neurological disorders as cerebral palsy. Physical strength, a sense of balance, coordination to stay on the horse, and control it are needed – horse riding helps to develop all these skills. A horse is an animal with character, and you need to communicate with it, even while riding, which helps to develop social skills. It is also pleasant that self-esteem rises – literally because a person is “on a horse.” Together, this makes hippotherapy an instrument of socialization.

Cats

Cats

The University of Minnesota found out that neighborhood with cats helps reduce the risk of heart attack by almost a third. The study lasted ten years. During this time, 4.43 thousand Americans aged 30 to 75 participated in it. Among them, 3 thousand people were owners of cats. Observations showed that mortality from a heart attack among the latter was 30% lower. A year later, these findings were confirmed by another study. Scientists have found that having a cat reduces the risk of a heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases. In particular, a stroke. It’s all about the unique ability of these pets to relieve anxiety and stress. As a result, people have normalized blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and heart rate.

Rabbits

Rabbits

Sometimes a tiny, quiet animal suit therapy better. If it is your story, therapists recommend buying a rabbit. These pets are easy to keep at home, they are always known to be clean and tidy, and this is natural for them. They are a perfect choice for people who cannot get a bigger pet like a dog or cat or horse. Petting rabbits develop fine communication and motor skills. The only demand is not to leave an animal alone and at least once a day spends time with them.

Reptiles

Reptiles

It seems that reptiles do not look like animals that help to deal with mental health. But the research that occurred in Great Britain (London) proved that having reptiles as a pet distracts patients from their problems and sad thoughts. That is why such exotic pets need more attention and care. Besides, reptiles may help with self-confidence because it can show that he is capable of such difficult pet care, which means he can deal with any of his problems.

How Pets Influence Children

Animals provide the basis for the development of logical thinking in children. Based on ideas about animals received from life, a child learns to see various connections and dependencies. For example, a cat meows near a bowl – it means that it got hungry, cat hides, and presses its ears – it hunts, etc. So, animals stimulate many different types of activities, for example, outdoor dog activities according to ThePets: observation and play, work, creativity, competitive process – as a result, the child develops a healthy curiosity and learns to be observant, develops imagination.

How Pets Influence Children

In the course of communication with animals, the child develops a sense of beauty: children learn to see the natural beauty of pets. And this beauty, in turn, stimulates children’s creativity. The child seeks to reflect his experiences with the animal in poems, stories, and mainly in the visual arts.

Pets can cure stuttering and also help closed children to join the outside world. Pets become a source of both first experiences and first joy. In communication with the animal, the child experiences, first of all, positive emotions. At the same time, the child, when dealing with the animal, naturally learns to show a careful and caring attitude to the whole animal world. So the concepts of ecological culture, which is an integral part of the spiritual culture, are instilled in the child.

The child gets acquainted with the simplest labor operations. Under the guidance of adults, he acquires the first skills in caring for animals. At the same time, the child receives additional knowledge about the living conditions of animals in nature and at home.

Animals are indispensable in strengthening the physical and mental health of children: in the process of walking with a dog, playing with a cat, or a rabbit. When caring for a pet, children develop physically.

Animals are a kind of psychological urgency for children, compensating for loneliness, pets relieve psycho-emotional stress. And to allow them to play and even talk with them, stroking or cuddling – this is important, especially when adults do not have enough time and energy to communicate with their child. An animal will not replace parental love, but communication with a pet will be very useful for the child.

For indecisive and reserved children, pets often replace friends. Then children trust the animal all the secrets, joys and sorrows, boast of their achievements and abilities – because the animal will not brush it off, will not laugh and will not tell anyone. And thanks to the pet, such a child can make friends more easily among children, for example, during joint walks with a dog in the yard or park.

Children are self-centered: they cannot put themselves in the place of another and understand how he feels. Animals do not know how to hide their state and feelings, and when observing and communicating with animals, children learn to sympathize, empathize, understand others – and this is important for the life of a child in society.

Overly mobile children in communication with animals successfully “dump” the excess of their energy, while directing it in the right direction.

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