Did you know that pet therapy is a thing? That’s right, pets can help reduce your stress and anxiety levels.
The therapeutic effect of having a pet helped many people get through the hard months of lockdown during the Covid pandemic. This experience was proof, if any was needed, that pets can provide us with much-needed companionship and reduce anxiety. They helped to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. When we are around them, we feel less alone in the world.
Pets can also provide entertainment and a sense of fun. They can make us laugh and help to take our minds off of our worries. And when we are feeling down, they can provide us with some much-needed unconditional love.
Pet Therapy: Dogs – a source of unconditional love
Dogs are wonderful companions and motivate us to go for walks, ensuring that we get the exercise we need to keep depression at bay. Just taking your dog for a walk around the block can help to reduce stress levels and improve your mood.
Even more importantly, dogs give us something very rare – unconditional love. When we are feeling down, they are always there to offer a cuddle and make us feel better.
Research has shown that petting a dog leads to:
- Lowering blood pressure
- A decrease in heart rate
- A decrease in muscle tension
Playing with a friendly dog reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and increases oxytocin levels (the “cuddle hormone”). It has also been found to benefit children with ADHD and autism.
Pet Therapy: Cats – playful companions that keep us entertained
Cats are excellent stress-busters. Stroking a cat has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, as well as reduce anxiety and stress.
Cats are also great entertainment, often providing us with hours of amusement with their playful antics.
Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a growing field, with more and more hospitals, nursing homes, and mental health facilities using pets to help people recover from illness or trauma.
AAT can take many forms, but usually involves animal-assisted activities (AAA) or animal-assisted therapy (AAT). Some programmes use horses, while others use dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs, and even llamas!
Pets reduce anxiety and improve our mental health
Pets provide us with companionship, exercise and entertainment – all of which are beneficial to our mental wellbeing. They can also help reduce loneliness, especially for those who live alone. Pet owners also benefit from the responsibility that comes with owning a pet, since having a caretaker role can help to structure our day and give us a sense of purpose.
If you are feeling down, spending some time with your furry friend may be just what you need. So go ahead and cuddle up with your cat or take your dog for a walk – pet therapy just might be the best medicine for you!
That said, if you are considering getting a pet, do your research first to make sure that you are prepared for the commitment. Think about which type of animal would be best for you and your lifestyle.
Dogs need daily walks and lots of attention, while cats are more independent. Pets need care, attention, and love. But if you are ready to give them the time they need, they will reward you tenfold with their companionship, love, and laughter.
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