The Benefits of Pet Therapy

August 8, 2017

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Why Do Animals Make Us Happier?

Do you have a dog? A cat? Or any pet? You may have noticed that being around your pet makes you feel happier. There are countless reasons that lead people to have therapy animals. According to the ADA, a service animal is an animal that is “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” Many people only know of service dogs associated with eyesight but they can be used for so much more. But what makes dogs a good treatment?

Researchers from Dogtime.com said that “Animals accept us as we are — they don’t judge and they don’t threaten — so patients can wholeheartedly interact with them safe in the knowledge that there is no hidden agenda.” Patients that may have a hard time opening up to people, often feel comforted in the presence of a dog because they know the dog will not judge them or make them uncomfortable.

Some common ways that pet therapy is used are,

  • Dementia: Therapy dogs are commonly used in nursing or assisted living situations to increase the social activity in patients and help lift their spirits. An animal gives patients something to talk about and something exciting to do.
  • Substance Abuse: When a pet is present, it has certain needs such as needing to be fed and walked. Having a pet can help people who have struggled with substance abuse because it gives them something to focus on other than themselves and gives them a partner to help them get through the process of developing healthier behaviors.
  • Depression: Petting a dog triggers endorphins in the brain which causes a patient to feel happier in the presence of the animal. Having an animal around also helps to take the patient's mind off of their own problems and focus on the needs of the animal.
  • College Campuses: Many colleges (including UNH!) have dogs around during finals week to help reduce the stress of exams and give students something relaxing to do during a break from studying.

Pet therapy can be used by anyone, so the next time you hear about dogs in the library during finals week, be sure to check them out and see the benefits!

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