Animal Therapy

Feb 8, 2012 By Katie, 11
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An animals eyes have the power to speak a great language. “Until one has learned to love an animal, a part of ones soul remains unawakened (Anatole France).” In 1999, a care center carefully followed a certain 92 patients. These patients all had the same heart disease. 53 of those patients had a pet with them almost all of the time. Out of those 53, only 3 died in a year’s time. The other 39 did not have pets, or chose not to love them. Out of those 39, 11 died in a month’s time.

So what is the science behind animals and their miraculous healings?

Animals and Autism

Being around house hold pets can be a great addition to an autistic child’s life. Autistic children often use expressions in place of words. Therapists have realized that verbal relationships may be overwhelming to the autistic child. But because an autistic child’s relationship with an animal is usually non-verbal, therapists have noticed that autistic children often interact with animals easier than they do humans. One study showed that when a therapist tried to play a give and take game and talk to the child, the child lost interest in about one minute. However, when they brought a dog into the room that the child had played with before, the child immediately picked up the ball and started to play fetch with the dog.

Sweethearts and Seniors

These 4 legged therapists don’t just help children with disabilities, they are also therapeutic to the elderly. Now, I’m not just talking about cats and dogs- even pigs, goats and geese have been found to bring joy to the elderly. Over the years, traveling petting zoos have become more and more of a popular hang out for the elderly, giving them an opportunity for physical exercise and social interactions. National studies have also confirmed that petting an animal relieves stress and lowers blood pressure and serves as a distraction from physical and emotional pain. Having a pet, gives a sense of purpose to those who feel worthless, and companionship to those who are alone. It has been found that when some elderly people hold puppies or kittens close to their bodies, they remember similar pets they had when they were young. A little kitty on their lap makes a good companion.

Friends and Fighters

What’s the cure for a 7 foot soldier’s depression? Paws and hooves… The US Army is increasing use of animal therapy, specifically with dogs and horses, to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, According to the report “Depression: Gaps and Guideposts”, about 20 percent of people living with depression have used animal therapy in treatment, with 54% finding it “extremely” or “quite a bit” useful.

Under a bill written by Senator Al Franken, veterans with PTSD (depression) will get service dogs as part of a pilot program run by the Department of Veterans Affairs in an effort to provide more support for animal therapy in severe emotional disorders for soldiers. The dogs are trained to help jolt a soldier from a flashback, dial 911 on the phone, and even sense a panic attack before it starts

Chris Goehner, a 25-year-old Iraq war veteran, reported that he was able to cut his doses of anxiety and sleep medications in half after getting one of the service dogs. He also saw an end to his night terrors and suicidal thoughts. His dog has been trained to wake him from a nightmare from licking his face. A great relationship between friends and fighters

Conclusion

Animal Therapy offers children, seniors, or even soldiers with an opportunity for companionship - a relationship that is the greatest one may ever know, a reason for living and a new life!