Animals as healers

The term pet-therapy, coined in 1964 by the child psychiatrist Boris M. Levinson, refers to the use of companion animals to treat specific diseases. A support practice, which exploits the positive effects given by the proximity of pets to a person. The animal does not judge, does not refuse, it gives itself totally, it stimulates smiles, it helps socializing, it increases self-esteem and has no prejudices.

What are the benefits and goals?
Pet-therapy can significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue. It also helps people with a range of health problems:

  • Children having dental procedures
  • People receiving cancer treatment
  • People with dementia
  • Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder
  • People with anxiety

The goals of a pet-therapy program can include:

  • improving independent movement
  • increasing self-esteem and verbal communication
  • developing social skills
  • improving interactions with others
  • motivating willingness to exercise and join activities

What are the cons?

The biggest concern, particularly in hospitals, is safety and sanitation. People who are allergic to animal dander may have reactions during pet therapy. In some cases, people may become possessive of the animal.

How can my pet be helpful?

The first step in pet therapy is the selection of a suitable animal. Many groups and organizations train and connect volunteer owners. This process typically includes:

  • a physical examination of the animal
  • an obedience training course
  • an instructional course to teach the trainer about interaction with other people
  • an evaluation of the animal’s temperament and behavior with the handler
  • a certification from the sponsoring organization

It is a very nice initiative, in my opinion, because it improves your days, even if you are in hospital. Drugs can help our bodies, but animals make us to feel happier. Any animal puts a smile on our face!