How Pets Reduce Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

People of all ages can benefit from what is known as Pet Therapy.


Behaviorally assessed animals have been used as a holistic way to enhance heath and well-being in patients suffering from a variety of mental and physical illnesses or alongside other more invasive therapy or treatment.


Pet therapy has been found to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.  It can improve the lives of those who are suffering from debilitating physical health conditions or mental illnesses. For some people it gives them the confidence they need to improve their self-esteem and social skills.


There are professional providers that visit people in their own homes, at hospital, hospices, special needs schools, day care centers and care homes.  Companies are made up of pet owners who volunteer their behaviorally assessed pets on a voluntary basis. Being able to touch and stroke a friendly animal brings comfort, joy and companionship to many people who are suffering from loneliness.


The most commonly used pets for this type of therapy are cats and dogs, however other animals such as horses, guinea pigs and can also provide companionship and friendship that helps to tackle loneliness.


Pet therapy works on the pre-existing human-animal bond. Animal interaction releases endorphins which give us a calming effect. This can help reduce blood pressure, improve overall cardiovascular health, alleviate pain, reduce stress, and improve a patients overall psychological state.


Healthcare providers sometimes experience problems communicating with people suffering from sensory disabilities. Animal interaction can help the patient to relax and feels be more open to communication.


If you are not feel ready to enroll in a Pet Therapy program, then why not look at spending time with a family pet. You may already have a cat or dog, in which case look at spending more time with them. Think of it as a mutual benefit. Your pet loves you to make a fuss of them and at the same time you are improving your overall health.  An added benefit of stroking your pet is that it helps their coat to produce natural oil which gives them a glossy, healthy look.


Dogs are especially intuitive and have been known to alert their owners prior to a seizure or fit, giving the owner time to take appropriate action which can be life saving.


One of the reasons we feel so calm when dogs are sleeping by us is from the old animal-human tradition where we would use dogs to guard us. Their incredibly sensitive senses of smell and hearing can make them aware of a change in environment long before a human can. So it is a natural instinct to us that if an animal is calm, then we are safe.


If you don’t have a pet or know anyone who does, you can go to a petting zoo. These are small farms for children to be able to interact with a variety of farm animals. Because it is set up for children, the animals are well behaved and are usually content to stand and be petted.