Therapy Pet Visitation
Therapy pet visitation is an informal program of therapy pets visiting people in need of companionship.
Therapy pets are reliable, predictable and controllable animals who enjoy visiting nursing homes, hospitals, classrooms and other facilities. At Pets and Friends, it involves regularly scheduled visits from screened and trained therapy pet and human teams to elders and persons living with chronic illness in a variety of of health care settings and to students in educational environments.
Benefits of Pet Therapy
Physicians, facility staff, relatives, and volunteers have observed residents benefiting from pet therapy in a variety of ways, including:
- Increased physical and social activity
- Decreased aggressive or hyperactive behaviour
- Increased ability to deal with feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Relief of depression and disorientation
- Improved morale, self-esteem, self-confidence and self-respect
- Lowered blood pressure
- Reduced stress and anxiety
Meaningfully, pet therapy helps residents to open up socially in their day-to-day lives. Caregivers can improve the quality of care they deliver when residents are willing to communicate their feelings, needs, and desires.
Residents thoroughly enjoy the diversion, physical contact, funny moments, easy conversation, and just-as-you-are acceptance therapy pet visitation provides.
Pet therapy provides people with emotional benefits through interacting with trained therapy pet and human teams. It focuses on people’s comfort and pleasure rather than specific treatment goals. Interactions are spontaneous and social in nature. A therapy pet generally is a dog, cat or bunny. The pet must be well trained and enjoy spending time with people. A therapy pet is involved in animal-assisted activities where the purpose of visiting is to provide general support to people rather than be a part of a specific treatment plan. They differ from service animals whose primary purpose is to provide some type of assistance to an individual such as a Seeing Eye dog. With Pets and Friends a therapy pet always visits people as part of a therapy pet and human team.
Additional Benefit Information
- A Canadian study of nearly 1,000 adults aged 65 and over found that pet owners were more physically fit and less likely to suffer a decline in health over the course of a year. (Chris Woolston, Advance Rx.com)
- Children on the Autism spectrum with pets at home score significantly higher on empathy and pro-social orientation scales than those without pets. (Vidovic, 1999)
- People who own pets typically visit the doctor less and use less medication.
- Pet owners, on average, have lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
- Pets decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation. (Australian Veterinary Society)
- Persons living with HIV/AIDS have less depression and lower stress levels when they own pets. (Siegel, 199, Carmack, 1991)
- Studies show that pet owners spend an average of five fewer recovery days in hospital than non-pet owners.
- Only seven percent of human communication is verbal. Ninety-three percent is non-verbal, which might explain why our animals seem to understand us so well!