Pets on Prescription

Pets are so good for human well-being that it’s been said that they should be prescribed as a therapy to certain groups of people. The proven benefits of having a pet are often greater than those of many commonly used medications. Studies have demonstrated that pets can significantly influence psychological and physiological indicators of stress, while their companionship can also act as a social catalyst, particularly valuable to people facing the risk of social isolation.Animals not only offer unconditional love, company and friendship, but they also boost health and the overall well-being, especially in the elderly.

What exactly is pet therapy?

Pet therapy, otherwise known as animal-assisted therapy, is a type of therapy that involves pets as a form of treatment. Its main goal may be to improve patient’s emotional, cognitive or social functions. It is usually offered in rehabilitation centers, residential aged care setting, home and community care and retirement living. Various domesticated animals may be used in the therapy. But, why are animals so beneficial for us, and in particular, for the elderly? Well, no one knows the exact reason. Maybe it’s simply because humans are intrinsically social beings and enjoy companions, and this companion does not necessarily need to be human.Studies have shown that the patients not only enjoyed keeping their pets, but that the pets are also cost-effective, as they reduce the need for costly paid help.

Key benefits

There have been numerous researches on the benefits of pet therapy, and the results have shown it can lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce stress, in addition to improving communication and reminiscence. Many people who normally fail to respond to other therapies may open up and start communicating with their animal companions, as they will feel less lonely. Pets may also encourage and motivate the elderly to exercise in order to stay healthy, making them feel needed.There have also been proofs that the people who undergo pet therapy later need less medication, visit the doctors less frequently and recover more quickly from surgery or illness. It was also found that the patients who shared their lives with pets lived considerably longer than those who didn’t keep pets. Last but not least, a pet trained for the therapy may also assist in improving motor skills.

How does it function?

Generally speaking, pets need to undergo special training prior to being used for therapy. This training commonly involves going through different possible situations with a trainer, so a pet can respond appropriately. It is very important that the animal learns these responses, so that it doesn’t panic in a real-life situation. The animals used for therapy must be properly socialized since they will constantly be meeting new people. They must also comprehend how to interact with people who use wheelchairs, crutches or other mobility aids, and have basic obedience skills.

Mutual appreciation

In order to show your gratitude towards your furry companion, you should do something nice for them. That’s why you need to make sure your pockets are always full of tasty surprises, such as those delicious Royal Canin treats. That way you can reward your little helper anytime they deserve it.

There’s nothing worse than being lonely. That just may be the reason why pet therapy is showing such good results, as people tend to overcome difficulties much easier when they have someone by their side.

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