The soothing action of stroking a dog’s fur, watching fish swim across an aquarium, or even listening to a cat’s purr, can provide stress-reducing comfort not easily afforded by other means. The effect pets may have on reducing the stresses that go along with illness may actually stimulate a physiological response to reduce tension and stress, which in turn may reduce the physical problems. Pets often create a sense of purpose to continue
living, to nurture and care for a beloved little “family member.” By providing unconditional love and attachment, pets can increase a sense of self-worth and induce a survival mechanism of their owners.
Studies have clearly indicated that owning a pet has been demonstrated to:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels
- Decrease the incidence of minor health problems
- Reduce trips to the doctors by senior citizens
- Decrease heart attack morbidity rate by 3 percent
- Improve the pet owner’s psychological well-being
But the benefits of pet therapy can work both ways. The people who provide pet therapy services often speak about how rewarding it is for them. Even better, pets and people of any age can volunteer in a therapeutic capacity. Some organizations even prefer to provide pet therapy to senior citizens using older pets—further proof that age doesn’t matter when love is involved.
Researchers are finding that pets truly have the power to heal their owners, especially the elderly. The most serious disease for older people is not cancer or heart disease, but loneliness.
Too often, people who live alone or are suddenly widowed die of broken hearts. Love is the most important medicine and pets are one of nature’s best sources of affection. Pets relax and calm. They take the human mind off loneliness, grief, pain, and fear. They cause laughter and offer a sense of security and protection. They encourage exercise and broaden the circle of one’s acquaintances.
Patients in hospitals and nursing homes who have regular visits from pets – whether their own or those brought in from various agencies – are more receptive to medical treatment and nourishment. Animals give the patient the will to live and in nursing homes, the medical staff is often surprised to see residents suddenly “become alive.” Animals have a calming effect on humans and benefit mental well-being, especially with children and the elderly.
Children, especially those who are abused or neglected, are able to communicate with animals. A pet offers a safe place for a child with emotional problems. They give unconditional love, providing a security blanket.
A dog, cat, ferret or parrot can be the bond that glues a family together when upheaval, such as moving, death or divorce, occurs. Often, an animal can reach a child beyond an adult’s touch.
Professionals in the field of pet-assisted therapy find that in addition to cats and dogs, fish, pot-bellied pigs, birds, reptiles, rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, horses and llamas are also valuable healers. They have also found pets lower blood pressure and stress levels, give the patient a reason to interact, offer a chance to exercise and a sense of security and/or intimacy, allow communication, and offer continuity in life.
The innocence of animals and their ability to love makes animals special. Human beings want to be part of their world, to connect with them in a mysterious and powerful way that will strengthen and nurture both humans and animals.
That animals feel our pain, our joy, and our stress should come as no surprise for anyone who has a pet. Whether we recognize it or not, the emotional as well as the physical environment we humans create has a direct impact on the way our pets behave. What experts know, however, is that animals allow humans to focus, even for a short period of time, on something other than themselves.
Animals, especially small ones, have shown promise for many conditions, both social and physical:
- Pets help Alzheimer’s patients by bringing them back to the present. Specially trained pups can also help alert others that an Alzheimer’s patient has wandered into harm’s way. “Pets can provide a measure of safety to people with the disease,” says Thomas Kirk, a vice president of a chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
- Children who suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD) are able to focus on a pet, which helps them learn to concentrate.
- Mentally ill patients, or those with emotional problems, share a common bond when a cat or dog enters the room. Instead of reacting negatively to one another, it boosts morale and fosters a positive environment.
- Pets are an antidote to depression. Life in a care facility can be boring. A visit from a therapy cat or dog breaks the daily routine and stimulates interest in the world outside.
- Pets provide social interaction. In a health care facility, people come out of their rooms to socialize with the animals and with each other.
- Everyone has the need to touch. Many humans are uncomfortable hugging or touching strangers, even those close to them. Some people are alone and have no hands to hold, no bodies to hug. But rubbing the fur of a cat or dog can provide a stimulation that is sorely lacking. The nonverbal connection is invaluable in the healing process.
- Pets are a source of expectation, hope and communication. Looking forward to a social call or getting home after time away gives that spark of anticipation all humans need to help feel alive. Pets can help start a conversation, and help one who is struggling against unusual difficulties in learning to speak for the first time or after a speech impairment such as a stroke.
Animals also provide healing outside domestic settings: dolphin and pet-assisted therapy, horseback riding, farm animal and wildlife interaction, and marine life activity.
Featured dog- Hazel
Hazel is 4 1/2 years old.
Hazel enjoys spending time with people. She Love to cuddle with you and is very affectionate. Would love to be part of your family if you would give her a chance to win your love. She would appreciate it!!
Other available dogs
Billy 5 year old Husky Very quiet and laid back dog. Loves being with people
Haley- 9 month old pit bull mix. Very friendly and easily handled. Has lived outside so will need housetraining and basic manner training. Does well on leash
Featured cat- Bella
Bella came to the shelter when her owner went into assisted living. She is adjusting well to all the changes in her life. She had never been around other animals but is interested in the other cats in the cat room. She is micro-chipped.
If you need a sweet and laid-back cat in your life, come visit Bella! She is very loving and loves to be pet or have her chin scratched. She loves people that understand that not every cat is going to be super-outgoing all the time. She might not be the first kitty to scurry over to you when you walk in the room, but she’ll be the one to captivate your heart if you take the time to sit with her. The nice thing about independent cats like Bella is that she won’t constantly pester you for attention and shell be just fine going off and playing with toys without being too needy! She’s the perfect mix of being affectionate and independent. She loves toys- wands, balls and stuffed animals.She is a nice quiet lady.
Other available cats
Felix- BEST CAT EVER Anyone who meets him falls in love.
Samantha- Beautiful. Loves being petted and carried around/held