In the case of mental health and neurological care, spending time with pets has many therapeutic advantages and benefits such as:
- Increases Physical Activity
Pet therapy offers a way to increase physical activity. Taking a therapy dog for a walk around the unit, in the garden or out for grooming sessions encourages service users to be more active, improving motor skills and encouraging independent movement, which proves beneficial for patients suffering from mobility restricting neurological conditions such as Huntington’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis.
- Improved Self Esteem
Taking care and spending time with pets can boost confidence and improve self-esteem. Loving displays of affection such as a dog wagging their tail or licking can make a patient feel more positive, whilst taking care of an animal allows patients to spend their time productively.
- Reduced Stress Levels
Stroking animals such as cats and dogs releases endorphins, having a calming effect and therefore reducing stress levels. This is especially beneficial for patients that suffer from dementia or anxiety. Such patients can become stressed and frustrated when they are unable to communicate with people or are unable to express their ideas or feelings but spending time with animals allows patients to bond with them without relying on any language. Pet therapy has also been proven to help children overcome emotional disorders and overcome speech problems as seen in this blog by William, an Autism Life Dog who visited Rhodes Wood Hospital.
- Reduces Depression
Having a pet visit the service encourages patients to push themselves into social situations that they might otherwise avoid. Animals are loving creatures that offer comfort and reassurance, decreasing feelings of loneliness and contributing to increased feelings of happiness and enjoyment.
- Decreases Blood Pressure
Patients suffering from high blood pressure are at a greater risk of developing heart diseases. Spending time with a pet has known to lower blood pressure levels. This ultimately plays an active role in lowering the risk of heart problems and other coronary problems. Patients with blood pressure are known to benefit from pet therapy and are likely to live a longer and healthier life.