Pet Therapy

By: R.A.

Ross dog

We know that pets provide us with good companionship…well sometimes. 

If you are simply looking at pets, most are lovely and cute. Owners of pets may disagree, depending on their pet’s behaviour today. 

Can we own a healthy happy pet who is so much more than a cutie you love to look at or pet?

Pet Therapy is the answer here, with well-trained animals bringing people with special needs so much help in a range of ways. 

Help with physical, social, cognitive on top of emotional boosts can be found through our furry friends.  Over recent years, studies have shown blood pressure can be lowered through simple physical contact with a pet, and that this improves the survival rate of heart attack victims.  Petting animals can cause endorphins to be released that suppress the pain response.

You don’t have to own a pet to find these benefits, even visiting a therapeutic pet can bring about a big positive change.

I have seen or heard about pets helping their owners in a range of ways, such as helping with fine motor skills and assisted or independent movement.  Self- esteem can be improved, with anxiety, loneliness and depression reduced. Social skills can be developed, as is willingness to participate in various activities.  There can be lots of interaction with others with all the new exercise you might be doing if you are dog walking.

Now of course not every animal or pet can provide good pet therapy, so which are the best?   Obviously well trained dogs are great for bringing comfort in many ways as are cats and other furry things. 

Then there are birds.” Parrots and parrot-like or hooked beak birds have marvellous personalities and bond for life. These colorful birds prefer not to fly, but instead spend their time socially with people, other birds, even dogs and cats!  Patients have been known to hold and stroke cockerels so tame they fall asleep on your lap”. I found this quite interesting and will need to pass this to my friend to try and make her birds fall asleep.

It’s not just our feathered and furry friends that can offer comfort; looking at fish is a very calming sight (hence their presence in so many waiting rooms). Even the easier to look after reptiles, are liked lots by children and adults alike.

Staying with birds, my branch of the Bank of Scotland between Bon Accord and St Nicholas shopping centres came to a standstill recently when they were paid a flying visit by a bird.  It was a few minutes of therapy for everyone in bank, a little break from their otherwise busy day.  Was this planned?  I must find out.  

There you have it, a little insight as to how appealing and therapeutic animals can be.  Forget the fact animals are different from humans and remember that they too feel and give love.  And as the song goes, love is all we need.

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