If you are a pet lover, you know how happy an animal can
make you feel. A growing body of scientific research is showing that pets can
make an individual feel happier and healthier.
This explains the increasing use of animals in settings such
as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, jails and mental institutions. Dogs and
cats are most common. However, birds, fish and even horses are used.
Maple Knoll Village, a non-profit continuing care retirement
community, found that pet therapy works well for residence in hospice care.
Representatives of Maple Knoll detail various physical
and mental health benefits of pet therapy.
· lowers blood pressure
· improves cardiovascular health
· releases endorphins (oxytocin)
that have a calming effect
· diminishes overall physical
· the act of petting produces an
automatic relaxation response, reducing the amount of medication some folks
· lifts spirits and lessens
· decreases feelings of isolation
· encourages communication
· provides comfort
· increases socialization
· reduces boredom
· lowers anxiety
· helps children overcome speech
and emotional disorders
· creates motivation for the
client to recover faster