Get a new ‘leash’ on life with support from pets
Imagine a form of therapy that provides instant comfort, true happiness, and lasting friendship. Pet therapy may help put a collar on depression—and you can experience the benefits in your own backyard!
Animal-assisted therapy is gaining the respect of clinicians as well. In fact, more practitioners are praising the virtues of pet therapy as it helps motivate patients to reach goals related to self-esteem, social skills, and relaxation.
“Our physicians love the animals,” said Allison Bowring, patient activity coordinator at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. Allison is part of the hospital’s Facility Dog Program, which launched in 2015 through support from private donors.
The program’s two golden retrievers, Hope and Hunter, are trained to help children facing challenges, and provide gentle bedside relaxation to families during tough times.
“Not only are clinicians advocates of the program, but many have dogs of their own and understand the comfort these animals bring,” said Allison.
Interacting with a friendly pet may help:
- Increase endorphins, resulting in feelings of calm
- Lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart rate
- Reduce mental fatigue, depression, and inactivity
- Inspire motivation to reach treatment goals
The next time you’re looking for a buddy to watch the game with you or a companion to join you on a walk, look to your furry friends. The therapeutic benefits might surprise you.
Animal-assisted therapy may not be right for everyone. Consider these other forms of expressive healing that have also been found to improve patients' lives.
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