Loving Eyes

Pet Therapy 101: How You and Your Pet Can Heal Each Other

Pets not only make great companions, but they can also help you recover after suffering from physical and mental afflictions. Here are just some of the benefits having an animal buddy can offer while you’re healing.

Better Mental Health

Having an animal companion helps you become mentally healthier. Pets are capable of lowering loneliness, stress, and anxiety levels, decreasing feelings of depression and alienation, brightening your emotional outlook, and providing you with comfort. They’re so great in promoting mental health that merely petting a dog or cat releases serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and prolactin, hormones that can elevate mood and help you relax.

Enhanced Physical Health

Taking care of pets also helps you improve your physical health. For one thing, having one in your home lowers your blood pressure. A study showed that people with high blood pressure experienced a significant decrease in their readings after adopting a pet. Aside from your blood pressure, pets can also improve your cardiovascular health. Owners have higher heart attack survival rate than those people with no animal companions. In addition, people and pets exercising together can enjoy a healthier weight.

Improved Physical Therapy

Pets can help you a lot, too, if you’re undergoing physical therapy. With an enthusiastic canine or feline rooting for you, you’ll be able to increase joint movements, improve motor skills, stay active longer, and recover faster. This can be especially helpful for stroke survivors. Some articles show that stroke patients with pets by their side walked faster and longer than those trying to heal on their own. Indeed, many client-satisfaction surveys indicate that patients tend to be more motivated when participating in animal-assisted therapy sessions.

But as pets can help make us physically and mentally sound again, so too can we change a similarly wounded animal’s life for the better. If the animal you own has experienced mistreatment or is naturally fearful, there are things you can give them.

Sanctuary and Safety

The least you can do for any pet is provide them with a safe place to live, complete with the best dog house (cat house in case of felines) and accessories. You should keep in mind, though, that if your dog or cat was formerly abused or is easily scared, the adjustment period would take longer than average. So give them a wide berth in the meantime, and let them familiarize themselves with their new home.

A Real Family

Everybody needs a kind and loving family to belong to, and animals are no exception. Maybe your new pet’s family was lousy and abusive to begin with. But that doesn’t mean you should treat your dog or cat the same way. By providing formerly mistreated animals with a real family, they’ll be able to recover faster, and their faith in humanity will be restored quicker.

A Second Chance

By giving an abused or fearful animal with a safe home and a better family, you’ll be able to provide them with another shot at life. In other words, they’ll be able to put their bad experiences behind them and move on toward a brighter future.

You’re in This Together

Pets can not only make us happier, but they can make us healthier. Similarly, we can also improve an animal’s health and well-being. So if either or both of you are currently hurting, best stick together.

Today’s guest post comes from Deinah Storm, a pet lover from the U.S. who’s had cats and dogs all her life. When she’s not walking the dogs with her family, she spends time writing informational and interesting blogs about pets to share with pet loving communities.

Loving Eyes, photograph © Ted Kyle / flickr

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February 9, 2019