The practice of pet therapy involves using pets to help teach or rehabilitate people with mental or physical disabilities. These pet methods are very much accepted in the medical community, and many hospitals allow pets inside to be used for therapeutic purposes.
Benefits of Pet Therapy
Some forms of pet therapy do not even require a patient to go to an official facility. For instance, watching fish swim in an aquarium has shown to lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension. Also, heart attack victims with dogs have been shown to have a higher chance of surviving one year past their heart attack than those patients without dogs. Finally, elderly people who own pets are generally more alert and active than those who do not.
Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy have seen pet therapy to be very successful. Animal assistance has been shown to improve depressions as well as oxygen saturation in patients diagnosed with cancers such as mesothelioma. A reduction in psychological distress among children with cancer has also been seen in families using pet therapy.
Stroke victims also receive substantial benefits from pets. Since strokes often affect mobility in one side of the body, patients can strengthen that side by stroking a pet. In addition, since speech is often impaired by a stroke, a patient may improve simply by talking to the pet. With a pet, people are generally more relaxed, and there is less pressure for a stroke victim to speak perfectly.
Ideal Pets for Pet Therapy
Dogs, cats, and fish are commonly used animals in pet therapy, for reasons mentioned above. Horses, however, are also common animals. Hippotherapy is the practice of using horses for physical and mental therapy. It has been shown to increase mobility and even speech patterns in patients.
Only certain types of pets can be used for therapy. Therapy pets will be around people with erratic mobility, sometimes hooked up to large machines. Thus, the pet must be calm and well-behaved. An easily-scared horse, for example, would not be a good animal to use for pet therapy. The pet should also listen to commands well from multiple sources.
Time and again, pet therapy has proven a successful medical practice. Patients with pets experience decreased medical costs, because they naturally improve their wellness through pet interaction. They also generally experience a longer lifespan, with a better quality of life. The effects have been especially proven in the children and the elderly: in the former group, operations require less pain medication, and the in the latter, there is a higher rate of social interaction. Since pet therapy has become more widespread, many hospitals now offer the option.
Mesothelioma and Pet Therapy
Advocates of alternative methods like pet therapy note the animal’s ability to ease pain and other mesothelioma symptoms such as depression and chemotherapy side effects. Along with medical treatments, those patients diagnosed with mesothelioma could likely utilize therapies such as this one. In the case of mesothelioma, having a latency period of 20 to 50 years can often mean that once an individual is diagnosed, symptoms will be strong and the pain, unbearable at times. Symptom relief with alternative practices such as pet therapy might make an individual with mesothelioma more comfortable and in some cases, healthier.
American Humane Association