Researchers have been studying the impact of pet companions on overall health and wellbeing since the 1960s. Some documented benefits of pets and animal-assisted therapies are pain relief, improved mood, and lower blood-pressure- the list of advantages continues to grow.
Pets are excellent companions for anyone- something to consider if you struggle with any of these conditions or issues:
Stress and Anxiety
Pets of all kinds can be very comforting during stressful or painful situations. Engaging and taking care of an animal can provide a feeling of security while also serving as a distraction from unpleasant circumstances or events. Since visiting with a beloved pet can decrease blood-pressure, it naturally helps erode signs of anxiety or nervousness, too.
Some individuals may find it difficult to self-soothe or calm themselves during times of duress. Individuals that support animal-assisted therapies report that bonding with pets can help stabilize emotions and teach self-regulation. Pets are an excellent positive coping strategy that can be used regularly.
An older study showed that veterans living in a residential facility tended to engage more with others when visiting and viewing an on-site aviary; the birds served as a common interest and topic of conversation among the tenants. Pets can improve socialization and communication skills. They often encourage engagement and participation simply due to meeting their daily needs, i.e. taking them out on walks, going to the store for pet supplies, etc.
As mentioned, pets can help people cope with depression or mood disorders. Many feel an improved sense of self and purpose when taking care of a pet, increasing feelings of trust and self-worth. Researchers say that the feeling you derive stroking a cat, petting a dog, or spending time with animals, releases hormones that reduce signs of depression and create a sense of wellbeing. In fact, pets of all species are currently used widely as emotional support animals, helping owners that live with depression, mood disorders, or mental health issues.
Naturally, if you are allergic to or fearful of animals, this may not be the appropriate therapeutic choice for you. Remember that pets’ encompasses a wide-range of animals; perhaps there is an adoption option that is right for you!
Unable to care for a pet of your own? Learn more about animal-assisted therapy.
For those that are simply unable to have their own pet, look closer at animal-assisted therapy options in your region. Studies have shown positive impacts and outcomes for those that regularly engage, pet, and visit with support animals. Some improvements were noted with consumers living with autism, behavioral issues, and mental health conditions like addiction or schizophrenia.
If you have a pet or are considering one, you will need a veterinarian. Call us at CVETS, a brand new, state of the art Emergency Vet and Surgery center in Columbia, SC, to set-up an appointment for your pet today.