Animal therapy, also known as pet therapy, is essentially the use of animals to help people recover from and cope with a plethora of mental health conditions.
For animal lovers and pet owners everywhere, it will be no revelation to learn that sharing your home with an animal provides you with strong emotional and therapeutic benefits. The healthcare profession is fully aware of these benefits too, and companion animals are now assisting healthcare professionals in bringing wellness to their patients, particularly those who are suffering with their mental health.
How Therapy Animals Are Used
Therapy animals are used in different facilities in different ways, but all for similar reasons. The benefits to your emotional health from simply being in the presence of an animal, particularly dogs, cats, and smaller furry animals, and stroking them while they snuggle against you automatically and quickly lifts your mood and provides comfort, happiness, and companionship.
Therapy animals are used in medical emergencies and during counseling sessions. They can help children with learning difficulties, help adults with anger management, and there are even programs in place in the United States that use dogs to help children learn how to read.
The use of therapy dogs is well known, and service dogs are often a person’s lifeline and sole access to the outside world. Cats are commonly introduced in nursing homes and can soothe and aid the elderly suffering from dementia. Equine therapy can help with anger management and behavioral problems and can help raise a person’s confidence and ease feelings of anxiety. Smaller animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, are easier to contain and provide just as much peace, relaxation, and feelings of contentment and other emotional benefits as their larger coworkers.
Owning Your Own Pet
Once you have experienced the benefits of therapeutic visitations by pet partners at care facilities or as part of your in-home medical treatment package, you may feel a strong desire to have your own therapy animal. Whether you have suffered a bereavement and are struggling with the grief process or have suffered an accident that has left you mentally distressed, the bond between a human and an animal can do wonders for your well-being.
If you are considering owning a pet for therapy purposes, it is strongly advisable, as well as morally right, to adopt an animal from your local animal shelter. Providing a safe and loving home for a rescue animal is multi-beneficial to both yourself, giving you a sense of purpose, as well as to the animal you rescue. Once you have sensibly decided on which animal you would like, research local adoption centers and ensure you register with an established and breed-specific veterinary practice, such as easyvet, to ensure all their needs are met.
Ensure you choose the right animal to suit your individual needs and capabilities; if you are either reluctant to or incapable of walking every day, a dog is obviously not the right animal for you.