Pet assisted therapy is a therapeutic intervention working with pets to help people recover from physical, mental, or emotional problems.
Pets are often a comfort for individuals who are struggling with long term illness requiring hospitalization, rehabilitation, or home health care. Adults recovering from substance abuse or addiction, mental health and emotional issues also benefit from the interaction with pets as part of therapeutic interventions and after care programs.
Studies have shown that after working with pets, patients report a reduction in anxiety, regulated breathing and a general sense of happiness.
Studies have also shown that petting animals can lower a person’s blood pressure and trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain.
Adults in recovery have shown improved attitude, behavioral aptitude, and a more rapid recovery from addiction when pet assisted therapy is included as a therapeutic intervention and therapeutic modality of care.
Simply walking, running, or playing with a dog creates an opportunity for a person to focus on non-verbal cues with a dog as well as non-verbal respect for the relationship and boundaries between a person and a pet.
While positive interactions are occurring, joy and coping hormones are being released, contributing to an improved attitude and relational understanding outside of the individual. Working with a pet dog, cat, and other animals also provides distraction from underlying and problematic therapeutic issues, struggles, or disabilities. Pet assisted therapy is a wonderful therapeutic tool for establishing respect and accountability within people.