The Effectiveness of Pet Therapy

Do you think animals can make you well? Recently, the term pet therapy and its effect are getting the limelight. Pet therapy is also known for AAT (animal assisted therapy), and it means the way of curing or healing somebody using animals. According to the Therapy Dogs International, the population of therapy dogs have more than doubled in the past ten years in the United States from 21,000 in 2009 to 50,000 therapy dogs in 2018. Currently, there are pet therapies using a wide variety of animals including dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, mice, dolphins, etc. Amid such attention, there are positive and negative aspects to the pet therapy.

According to many pieces of research, animal-assisted therapy can help people with a range of medical and nonmedical settings. In research in Psychology Today, it is mentioned that there is evidence to prove the physical benefits of living with dogs which include improved cardiovascular health and increased physical activity to lower cholesterol and decreased blood pressure. In addition, the decrease in blood pressure can reduce the risk of heart disease. Also, pet therapy can support elderlies. This is mainly because therapy animals can support them when they are suffering from depression and loneliness. Furthermore, pets can reduce feelings of helplessness of disabled person by providing someone or animal to take care of. Also, this can be effective for children with ADHD or autism. Moreover, we can reap the benefits from pet therapy in nonmedical settings to help people deal with anxiety and stress in such place like universities, community programs or at home. In addition to dealing with stress, pets can also teach children the responsibility of taking care of another life.

On the other hand, there are several points to consider before participating in animal-assisted therapy. Although pet therapy can be effective in many cases, you have to think about the presence of an unsuitable person for such activity beforehand. This is because therapy can rather be harmful to the people who are allergic to animals because they will have a danger of having reactions during the therapy. In addition to that, there is a danger of compulsive pet buying in AAT. When this happens the owner of the pet can become socially isolated by spending all of their time, money, and energy to care for the pet. Furthermore, when doing pet therapy, you have to especially consider the safety and sanitary of both pets and patients. The licking of the pets can transfer bacteria to the patients with a low immune system.

From the fact that many types of research have shown a significant effect of animal-assisted-therapy, and that most parts of the disadvantages are preventable in beforehand, I think the benefits of pet therapy outweigh the negatives.   

07 July 2022
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