Wellness Wednesdays: pet therapy

Image: Wellness Wednesdays: pet therapy

In this edition of Wellness Wednesdays, we look at pet therapy and the wonderful ways pets can enrich the lives and health of seniors!

What is pet therapy?

Pet therapy, or animal-assisted therapy, is a type of therapy involving animals as a form of treatment. According to Therapeutic Paws of Canada, using pet therapy can improve an individual’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning.

What are the benefits of pet therapy?

Research has demonstrated many benefits to pet therapy and/or owning a pet; some of which may include:

  • Decreased blood pressure and stress
  • Improved communication and reminiscence
  • Decreased anxiety and a sense of calming from petting/stroking a pet
  • Pets may motivate and encourage the elderly to stay healthy and exercise
  • A senior feeling lonely or isolated may benefit from having something to care for and nurture
  • Mobility may improve with the assistance of an animal trained for pet therapy
  • Improved mood

How to know if pet therapy is right for you or your loved one

If you or your loved one is considering pet therapy, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I/they feel comfortable around animals?
  • Do I/they experience frequent loneliness?
  • Do I/they have high blood pressure?
  • Do I/they experience a great deal of stress on a regular basis?
  • Do I/they enjoy being a caregiver/nurturer to another living thing?
  • Would I/they benefit from the additional exercise a pet would encourage?
  • Do I/they need a “pick-me-up” to improve their mood and overall happiness?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions above, than pet therapy might be a great choice for you or your loved one. The next step is to decide if you/they are willing and able to own and care for a personal pet or if the services offered by a visitation-based program would be more suitable. Regardless of what you/they choose, a pet can be the perfect form of therapy for the physical, emotional, or cognitive challenges you/your loved one may be facing.

For more information on pet therapy and the different services available, visit www.tpoc.ca or www.elderdog.ca

Don’t miss our next edition of Wellness Wednesdays where we look at speech problems among seniors and tips for overcoming communication challenges related to speech impediments.