Pet therapy is popularly known as animal therapy. It refers to various services provided by animals to help people suffering from physical or mental health conditions. Being around animals is amazingly beneficial for their health. They make them comfortable. This concept has an optimistic effect on humans as they feel comfortable and relaxed. So, let’s dive a little deeper into Pet Therapy.
What Is Pet Therapy?
Pet Therapy is the kind of therapy where pets assist people in healing physical or mental health problems. The foundation of Pet Therapy depends on the bond between humans and animals. By forming a bond, many people achieve a composed mental state. It aims to help people. Dogs and cats are given priority as therapy pets. But animals like rabbits, horses, fish, and guinea pigs are also helpful.
Process of Animal Therapy?
Targets of Animal therapy determine its working. The type of therapy varies according to the condition and treatment. Some instances may include:
- Comforts and reduces the pain level.
- Improvement in locomotion.
- Develops social behaviour.
- Motivates the patient toward activities and physical exercises.
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The process of animal therapy involves the animal’s handler in bringing the animal to every session. The handler will work under a doctor’s guidance to help the patient.
Several organizations are training handlers and helping them to connect to healthcare providers. Before the therapy process, both the animal and the handler have to obtain various certifications. The handler must generally pass an instructional course on how to interact with people and perform the therapies.
The animal goes through various tests, including immunization records and performing a physical exam to ensure that the animal is healthy and disease-free. They will also have to undergo temperament testing and obedience training. This rigorous testing and certification ensure the safety and professionalism of everyone involved.
It is important to note that a therapy animal is not the same as a service one and does not have the same rights. For example, a therapy animal cannot accompany a handler into a business establishment.
Therapy Pets usually visit hospitals, schools, rehab centers, or retirement homes. These pets have a good temperament, are loving and friendly.
Overall, the goal of animal-assisted therapy is to alleviate people cope with some problematic symptoms.
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Risks with Animal Therapy
Animal therapy may not be helpful for some people. Like, some people are sensitive and allergic to animals. Others may feel uncomfortable due to fear of the animals. Therefore, they may not prefer the therapy as it would cause them more stress.
In some cases, there are chances that the patient may become too attached to be departed from the animal. That could lead to possessiveness or may reduce the level of satisfaction with therapy. Moreover, therapy animals may be carriers of certain infections or diseases as they visit hospitals and other places. There may be a chance of them spreading these infections to other people, so thorough testing is mandatory.
Animal therapy can be beneficial for various mental health problems like:
- In reducing anxiety issues and stress level
- Relieves in the perceptions of pain
- Eliminates the phobia of fear or worry
- Increase the social support
- Motivates and stimulates
The use of therapy improved the efficacy of mental health treatments among adolescents too. It is helpful for various aspects of conditions such as:
- ADHD (i.e.) attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
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Some forms of animal therapy may also help physical conditions, including:
- Pain after cancer treatment
- Heart failure
- Postoperative Recovery
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Working with an animal in these cases may motivate the person to continue therapy, boost their mood, and reduce pain. For physical conditions, it may help them to commute and exercise more often.
Additionally, some long-term care facilities may offer pet therapy programs to help in improving the mood and general well-being of people.
A study confirms that dog-assisted therapy in long-term elderly care facilities helped reduce symptoms of depression. But still, there is a need to do more research to be sure about the benefits of animal therapy.
Options for Animal Therapy
Animal therapy is a complementary treatment. It is not a basis for the ailment of any condition and should be used only as a catalyst for the main procedure. It is not a substitute and might not suit everyone. People who do not show improvement or find it uninteresting may ask for other options. Choices will be different depending on the requirements of patients.
Animal therapy has regular sessions with well-trained animals. The elementary motive is to help people who are suffering from physical or mental health disorders. Doctors may recommend and administer animal therapy for various conditions, with different goals in mind for each person.
Some people may enjoy it, or some may not. People have their reasons to accept or avoid it. So, they can choose other alternative therapies. Anyone considering animal therapy should discuss the process and how they may benefit from it with a health specialist.