The Benefits of Pets and Animal-Assisted Therapy

The Benefits of Pets and Animal-Assisted Therapy

A lot of people are pet owners, whether it be dogs, cats, birds, fish, or more "exotic" animals, people in general just seem to love animals. However, what most people don't realize, is that there can be many health and emotional benefits to being around animals.

Several studies have been conducted on the benefits of animal interaction with humans. Here are some of the major benefits.

1. Providing Companionship. Pets can bring a sense of meaning and joy to people's lives, especially people who would otherwise be lonely. This could apply to people of all ages but particularly for elderly adults who may not see their family or friends very often. Isolation can increase a person's chances of being depressed or ill, having a pet to take care of and spend time with can boost people's happiness and take away the feelings of loneliness.

2. Stress Relief. Being around animals can help if someone is under a lot of stress. At my University, every semester during exam week, we have this "event" in which professors bring their pets to campus and allow the students to play and interact with them. This allows students to de-stress from exam week and it's a lot of fun.

3. Reducing Anxiety. Being around animals can help with people who suffer from anxiety issues. Pets can help bring about a sense of comfort for these individuals and also aid in the reduction of fear of social interactions. Animals can help promote calmness for these people.

4. Lower Blood Pressure. Some studies have claimed that being around animals can help lower someone's blood pressure and heart rate.

5. Increasing Exercise. This is referring to dogs in particular. Many dog owners enjoy taking their pets for walks or runs, this is beneficial not only to the pet but to the person as well. Many animals are full of energy and want to play, so interacting with pets in this way can help humans get their exercise too.

6. Reduction of Aggression. Some research has shown that being around animals can reduce anger and aggression in some people.

Pet therapy is a type of therapy that has become quite popular. Due to the many studies and research that has been conducted regarding the benefits of interacting with animals, it is widely growing as a successful way of aiding in the treatment of many different emotional and health problems with people of all ages. Some of the problems animal-assisted therapy is being used for consists of heart disease, anxiety, depression, cancer, Alzheimers' disease, learning disabilities, and a wide range of mental health disorders.

An example of animal-assisted therapy at a children's hospital:


Pets can make a big difference in a person's self-esteem, happiness levels, and their overall physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. You don't have to suddenly become a pet owner to experience any of these benefits. Simply being around someone else's pet even for just a few minutes can help some people to feel better. All in all, animals can be incredibly therapeutic for many people.

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What Guys Said 14

  • since i was a little boy i have had dogs (and also rabbits and birds) around me and indeed it is like you say.

    My dog is my little hairy friend!!!

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  • Yes you can see it becoming more popular especially with austistic kids. You can see a person visibly change when they are with their pet often their best friend in the world.

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  • All those apply to me except number 5 lol I've become a lazy bum.

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  • This is amusing.

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  • The hardest time in my life that I can remember was the year I didn't have a dog. Since birth I've had dogs around me. And I will never go without again.

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  • <3 the animals and animal lovers! As a pet owner I know for a fact all of those are true ESPECIALLY 1-3. They are part of the family, forever in our hearts <3

    Just out of curiosity, why no love for the kitties ^..^

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    • Haha no reason in particular, through my own research I just found that dogs are more commonly used in pet therapy so that's what I talked about the most. Other animals can be used as well though :)

  • Animals are the best anti-depressant

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  • Great take! Well articulated, too!

    Pets are just awesome! They really are! We live longer when we have them! We are happier when we have them! I'm a big supporter of pets for those who can take the responsibility! Where I differ from many pet enthusiasts is my belief that the bottom line is (and should be) that they aren't a substitute for real human contact. Pets love us unconditionally and don't get me wrong, there's a time when we need that, but unconditional love all the time isn't a good thing. Blondie loved Hitler unconditionally, I'm sure, because she didn't know any better. Pets generally don't challenge us to be better people. Sometimes we need conditional love to make us become better at interacting with others.

    Love pets! Keep pets! Play, cuddle, laugh with, sing to, and enjoy pets! And go out there and be with people, too. :)

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  • I'm just amazed somebody on this site used sources :p lol

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    • Hahaha! I always try to when I'm stating facts I've read in scientific journals or articles.

  • Great mytake! I love my dog to death. He has been my best pal for the last 10 years.

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  • Great take, I think having pets is always a great thing :)

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  • Another GREAT myTake from you. This is really great and helpful information.

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  • When I was a kid, my grandpa used to be a politician so a lot of people used to visit our house. Someone (jealous family member) tried to kill our dog in our absence. We found him unconscious. Doctor treated him and he made it to stay alive. Some weeks later, he attacked again and he died. My heart was shattered.

    So now, I don't have enough courage to get over this pain again so I'm afraid to have another dog.

    But I love them. Even more than humans. So I feed street dogs every day. They love me a lot. They keep waiting for me at specific place and at specific time according to schedule. They help me to compensate. And I help them to survive. :)))

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    • Oh my gosh, that's so sad :( It takes a truly terrible person to purposely kill an animal like that. How awful. It's really nice that you take care of stray dogs though.

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    • Thanks and yes, I'm sorry I forgot to mention --

      Great take, editor!

    • Thank you :)

  • Yep, I'm a dog person. People are also more friendly out in public if you take your dog for a walk. Good conversation starters. That golden retriever in your first pic is adorable.

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    • I agree! I forgot to mention that, it makes it somewhat easier to meet people if you're out in public with your dog :)

What Girls Said 12

  • I love animals so much. Thank you for the excellent myTake. :)

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  • Horses are used for therapy to raped victims or sexually abused children and people.

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  • Animals are also great for those who need them for medical reasons. My 4 year old can legally have an alert dog. Unfortunately, they cost $10,000-$20,000 dollars. These dogs are beneficial in saving children's lives every day. Having one could possibly save my son's life. It would also help me to sleep better knowing that i have back-up and won't have to fear him dying in his sleep as much. Too bad I don't have that kind of money to put into one.

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    • Oh yeah, definitely. Even regular dogs have been known to sense when something is wrong with someone and alert another human. It's amazing.

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    • Yeah, I think that will be good. And thank you for your response here. It is nice to be able to talk to someone who understands. Best of luck to you and your son as he starts school :)

    • Thanks, hun!

  • I got over my depression after my parents got me a dog. Every time I tell someone I got over my depression that way instead of anti-depressant pills they get so weirded out. I think therapists and psychiatrists should recommend pets to depressed or traumatised people more often. It helps more than most people think.

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    • It is becoming practice now to use animal therapy on soldiers suffering from PTSD.

  • furry friends...

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  • Love this! Some of the children at my job attend horse therapy every week. They love it!

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  • Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more. It's been proven to extend the lives of single/elderly people when you have a companion by your side.

    Also I just remember how happy I became and how I forgot all of my troubles when people would walk in with their dogs or other pets into my hospital room.

    This was a great take and I couldn't agree more =)

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    • Thanks for reading! Yeah I think some people underestimate how much a pet can lift someone's spirits. Especially for people in a hospital :)

  • cook it when you are starving

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  • Awesome take!
    And awesome professor too!

    If I may, I just wanted to add:
    I THINK pets can also help you become more sensible and considerate too towards others. Because if you live alone or are otherwise quite secluded from society, having a pet can make you understand that they have needs too, so you can't just be egoistic and not take your dog for a walk because you're too lazy.

    And needless to say, pets can give kids a sense of responsibility.

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    • Yes, I definitely agree with the points you made. I got my first dog because my parents wanted me to learn responsibility. Unfortunately, he was hit by a car last year, but I loved taking care of him and it definitely helped me in numerous ways. I haven't gotten another dog yet but I hope I will be able to soon.

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    • as long as you don't get locked in with the lion!

    • haha yeah, that would be pretty scary. Lol

  • As always, i loved reading your take!!!
    i too, personally think that pet therapy is one of the most effective ones. Animals are the purest creatures on earth. They don't fake affection, or manipulate. They just simply love. It is great for people who feel dejected or cheated or not respected enough.
    i love dogs because their chaste, innocent eyes are hard to ignore. They adore their caretakers. They have the purest soul..
    i wish i could share a photo of our kind of pet, Bunnu, but somehow my phone is not letting me. He is a stray that lives in our building, and my mom and i feed him twice a day. But we will never have a pet of our own... watching it die before us will be too painful.. i still remember when we had to call SPCA because Bunnu's wound was infected with maggots. He never had a mother who could teach him how to groom himself... he was crying so bitterly! It was almost like a surgery performed on him, and anaesthesia can cause heart attack in dogs. He had to go through it all...
    now we are extra careful, whenever he is wounded. We apply betadine there and then...

    i can go on and on about him, but i probably shouldn't, or couldn't. he is the most important person in my life, after my mother...

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    • I agree, a pet's love is unconditional. They don't care how someone looks or any of that superficial stuff which is why I sometimes love animals more than humans. Lol I think it's sweet that you and your mother take care of him. Thanks for reading! :)

    • You're welcome!

  • Ah! Honeybee! I was literally about to write this take almost exactly. Well said. :D

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    • Lol really? I've been learning about this type of therapy in school so I just decided to write about it. haha thanks! :)

    • Yeah I wasn't going to focus on the therapy so much but I had a half written take about unexpected benefits of having pets/dogs lol

    • Haha well you should still post it! I like the myTakes that talk about animals. Lol

  • I'm a massive animal lover, I've had my share of pets be that dogs, cats, rabbits or even birds. I currently have a parrot.

    Animals are amaIng creatures. Great mytake!

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