Do you sometimes feel like your pet’s butler and cook? Americans walk their dogs, cats and other critters, cook for them, and even celebrate their birthdays.
But it turns out the benefits go both directions. If you own a pet, scientists say your blood pressure and heart rate are probably lower, and your risk of heart disease is reduced.
Do you feel like your pet is driving you crazy? According to scientists, it is actually helping your mental health. Here is a look at how your pet is a big plus for better health.
Your Mental Health
Emotional Support Animals are now used in treatment and considered part of the normal care for a variety of mental health issues. Pet therapy, formally called animal-assisted intervention, is boosting the effects of conventional remedies.
For example, dogs and other pets are now a staple at children’s hospitals and adult rehabilitation centers. In years past, such a thing would have been unthinkable, due to fears of infection.
Current thought is that the social support these animals provide is critical for successful outcomes. They help with anxiety, loneliness and stress for any age, from children to seniors. Less stress frees the body to concentrate on healing.
All Types of 4-Legged Creatures
Americans tend to think of dogs when it comes to emotional support and physical help. After all, they are the support animals so often seen with people dealing with disabilities, PTSD and other conditions.
But scientists have found that many types of critters provide support. For example, they had a group of adults suffering from stress pet either a real rabbit or a turtle, or toys that looked like them. The results were clear. The adults who stroked the live animals reduced their anxiety. And they experienced positive results whether or not they liked animals. There was no change for those who petted the toys.
Horses have been part of the therapy plans in Europe since the 1800s. Studies report that doing simple activities around the horse reduced symptoms of PTSD in children and teens. Grooming a horse and walking it around an enclosed area were enough to show results.
Guinea pigs are more than a childhood rite of passage. It turns out they can help children, like those with autism, learn to socialize with less fear. In one study, anxious youngsters in a classroom that had a guinea pig found it easier to smile and laugh with other students.
Even Insects and Fish!
What about insects? They certainly don’t seem the epitome of cuddly. It turns out they can help too.
Seniors in a study, reported in Gerontology, got relief from their depression with the help of crickets. Each person in the study got a cage containing 5 crickets. Within 2 months, they were rated less depressed than those in the control group, who had no crickets. Scientists credit the simple act of caring for another living creature.
Fish aquariums can help people with Alzheimer’s function better. In one study, seniors with the disease ate their meals in a room with an aquarium filled with a colorful assortment of fish. The results showed the patients were more focused, less lethargic, ate more and paced less.
Reading to Your Dog
Dogs are one of the most popular emotional support animals. Children and adults have always understood how important mutts can be. Now scientists are researching how dogs help in various situations.
Have you ever read to your dog? One study looked at children who were having trouble with the reading process. When they read aloud to a dog and his handler, they showed less anxiety and their reading skills improved.
The Importance of Therapy Dogs
USA Service Dog Registration isn’t surprised about all the scientific data supporting the positive effects of animals on physical and mental well being. They have long known how important these animals are to people with disabilities.
To support the work of these animals, USA Service Dog Registration offers a free and easy, 3-step registration process on their website. They register service dogs, emotional support dogs and therapy dogs.
Looking for more information about laws regarding service dogs and emotional support dogs? Check the Resource tab on the website for information about laws, trainers and placement.
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