The Amazing Benefit of Animals on Health
Pet therapy is a broad term that includes animal-assisted therapy and other animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders. Animal-assisted activities, on the other hand, have a more general purpose, such as providing comfort and enjoyment for nursing home residents.
Owning a pet can have many positive health benefits. Cats, dogs, fish, birds, reptiles or even crabs are common pets today. Pets can alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and in some cases ADHD.
Over 71 million American households (62%) have a pet.
Even if getting a cat or dog is not wise right now, other animals could help. One large research study showed that birds and fish could also offer the same type of health benefits.
Any pet is not for everyone. If you are considering the addition of a pet to your household, pick one that fits your preferences and lifestyle. If you travel a lot or away from home frequently then a dog may not be a good choice, but a cat may be fine. Both offer unconditional love and company, but regular expenses need to be considered along with care and attention.
Birds can be surprisingly affectionate and cost much less to maintain than dogs. Fish can even be inexpensive and can be properly left alone for two or three days on a regular basis or for a longer period occasionally. Surprisingly, some fish have individual personalities and can tell the difference between the people who regularly feed them from other persons.
While you may not want to snuggle with a fish or a turtle, caring for them could improve your mood and overall health. Pets create responsibility and a new focus. Adding a little responsibility can add a new and positive focus to your life.
Many studies have supported use of animals in a variety of therapies. Seniors who were provided with an aquarium filled with fish had significant blood pressure reduction. Watching fish has been shown to calm children who suffer from ADHD. Dental patients who were subjected to hypnosis vs. an aquarium experienced the same or greater benefit from the aquarium. Other studies have shown that dental patients required less pain medication after having watched fish in the office. Alzheimer patients ate more, and required fewer supplements after an aquarium was placed in the dining room. They also exhibited less physically aggressive behaviors.
It is little wonder that physicians’ offices, dental clinics, and even waiting rooms in hospitals have commonly kept an aquarium in the waiting room. It is common in senior retirement homes to incorporate pets for the enjoyment of residents with a resident cat, roaming dog, aquariums, flight-cages of birds or sometimes all of these kinds of animals.
Think carefully about getting a pet; they deserve a forever home with proper care and attention. Researching the best choice, finding that special companion and developing a connection is a rewarding experience when the time is right. The evidence of health benefits of owning a pet is substantial.