So you may be asking yourself, “What is pet therapy exactly?” Well, it’s a broad term that includes animal- assisted therapy and activities. Pet therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover or better cope with health problems or mental health disorders.
So how does Pet Therapy work? Imagine you’re an Alzheimer’s patient who agrees to participate in animal assisted activities. An assistance dog and its handler come to visit you at your home. They say they can stay for about 15 to 30 minutes. In that time, you’re invited to pet the dog, play fetch or ask the handler any questions you may have about the dog. After the visit, you realize you’re smiling, happy and cheerful. You feel a little less tired and a bit more optimistic. You can’t wait to tell your family all about that amazing animal helper you just met. In fact, you’re probably already looking forward to the dog’s next visit.
This is how Pet Therapy works. It lifts your spirit and takes you away from your illness for a moment in time.
Pet Therapy is especially beneficial to people living within the late-stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Since it is difficult for these people to communicate clearly, pet therapy offers a different kind of communication. The simple act of petting a dog will speak for itself. People are able to communicate with the animal in different ways like, playing or petting.
Pets can also benefit the caregivers. Care giving can make you feel like you are all alone. While adding a pet to the list of loved ones you have to care for may seem like overload, having that happy face and wagging tail ready to give you some unconditional love when you return home can benefit caregivers as well. Studies have found that caregivers are twice as likely as the general public to develop chronic illness due to the prolonged stress of caring for a loved one. If having a pet can increase your exercise, lower your blood pressure and bring a smile to your face, then maybe finding your canine companion is just what the doctor ordered.
For more information, you can call us at 561-588-4545.