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Ways That Pets Can Improve Your Mental Health

Ways That Pets Can Improve Your Mental Health

Sometimes we think that owning a pet is a great way to add to our family or that we are doing our pet a service by saving them from an uncertain future. These alone are great reasons to own a pet; however, there are even more reasons to join the ranks of pet ownership.

Pets can benefit you in so many ways:

* Mentally
* Emotionally
* Physically
* Socially

While these are all important ways a pet can benefit you, improving mental health is high on the list. There are several individuals who benefit mentally from owning a pet. Of these, the elderly are worth a special mention. For many elders, living alone and feeling isolated are just a part of what they are experiencing during this stage of their lives.

Depression, Anxiety, and Panic

We all know that feeling isolated can lead to many other ailments. Of course, deterioration of the physical body is one of the downfalls of not getting out and socializing. However, mental deterioration in the form of panic, anxiety attacks, and depression can set in for an elder who is isolated. Those feelings are alleviated with the company of a pet.

Having a pet can improve the mental status of an elder in many ways.

A Feeling of Vitality

An elder who owns a pet is more likely to have feelings of wellbeing, peace, and a sense of vitality. A feeling that there is someone who needs caring for and tended to can make a huge difference, especially one who may have just recently lost a spouse they were caring for at home.

When an elder loses a spouse, sometimes they lose their sense of purpose along with them. Owning a pet is a wonderful way to get that sense of purpose back into their lives.

Socialization

Feeling isolated is one of the worst things an elder can experience; however, owning a pet can alleviate that sense of isolation. There are still some groomers who come to the home to groom pets and this gives the opportunity for the elder to have someone to share socialization.

Walking a dog also offers the opportunity to get out and about for an elder who is capable of doing so. Sometimes hiring a young teen in the area to come, walk the dog, and visit with the elder is a win/win situation all the way around. The teen may pick up some community service work and a few dollars as well.

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The Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy and Pet Facilitated Therapy

The Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy and Pet Facilitated Therapy

Animals used for therapy is certainly not a new idea. For years, it was thought that animals offered therapeutic, emotional, psychological, and physical benefits to a patient. Today, we know that these animals are useful in all these ways and many more.

Animal Assisted Therapy

Animal assisted therapy is a program wherein the presence of an animal is part of the whole process of treatment. An individual trained in health care will often oversee the whole process.

Emotional Benefits

Studies have shown that owning a pet simply makes us feel good. Having a reciprocal relationship of unconditional love with our pet feels even better. Studies conducted have shown that interaction with a pet has a definite positive impact on an individual’s emotional state of mind.

Studies have also demonstrated that stress, anxiety, panic, fear, and loneliness are all alleviated or lessened in individuals who own pets. Individuals who engage with a pet show better moods, a more positive outlook, and an inspired attitude as compared with those who do not own pets. An increase in self-esteem is also shown as one of the studied benefits of interaction with a pet.

It has also been shown that cognitive development, social skills, and a reduction in aggression are some of the many more benefits achieved through animal interaction. Overcoming shyness is another benefit of having a pet in the life of an individual. Research shows that shy individuals tend to become more outgoing when a pet is involved.

Physical Benefits

The physical benefits of animal assisted therapy and pet-facilitated therapy are numerous. For one thing, research and studies show that animal-assisted therapy or pet-facilitated therapy help patients to lower their blood pressure. Lower pressure, of course, can equate to a healthier heart. Another benefit is having lower cholesterol. Heart rate and cholesterol are positively impacted because the presence of a pet reduces stress and anxiety in a patient.

Some patients benefit from a doctor’s visit simply by having a pet in the room to alleviate stress. A small amount of time spent with a friendly dog is enough to lower the fight or flight chemical, including cortisol. When an individual is relaxed, stress hormones do not kick in and this can help a patient get well.

Therapists have used animal assisted therapy and pet-facilitated therapy to bring an uncooperative, withdrawn patient out in the open and create a space of trust and confidence.

These therapies are useful in areas where physically, emotionally, physiologically, and socially challenged individuals are concerned.

Animal assisted therapy and pet-facilitated therapy are used in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, adult homes, and in many other facilities with much success.

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Animal Assisted Therapy

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