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Pet Therapy - Caring for animals helps people to live longer

When you think of pet therapy usually a dog or a cat comes to mind but even watching a tank full of tropical fish may lower blood pressure, at least temporarily. Studies have shown that heart attack victims who have pets live longer. Caring for pets can also help people who are lonely or depressed. Not all people are able to care for a pet themselves so there are now many organizations that offer pet visitations, bringing in a dog or cat for a regular visit to the person in need so that they may benefit from the animal's unconditional love.

Why do dogs and cats make us make us feel better?

Dealing with a person is often complex and hard for a person such as a stroke victim suffering paralysis, or a person with a disfiguring disease. Dogs, cats and other pets provide comfort, attention and love without judging that person. Animals also bring out our own natural instincts to nurture other beings. They also make us feel safe and accepted.
Loneliness is also a huge problem in our society, especially for the elderly. Dogs and cats are often brought into nursing homes with positive results. The animals have a calming effect on people while reducing anxiety and loneliness. People feel a sense of well being while cuddling and stroking the animal's fur. This is especially important if a person is unable to communicate thereby leaving them more vulnerable to isolation. Medical staff in nursing homes have reported seeing residents 'come alive' when handling the visiting dogs or cats. Therapy animals are also sent to hospitals, juvenile halls, prisons and even day care facilities with animals being chosen for their ability to deal with many types of adults and children.

Some examples of the areas that therapy animals provide great benefit:
  • children with ADD. The child must give all their attention to the animal which keeps them present and focused
  • people who are mentally ill. These animals provide gentle contact and a chance to bond
  • elderly patients. Dogs, cats, even rabbits offer unconditional love, bonding, stress reduction and even relieve from the boredom of daily routine.
  • people who are sick. Pets alleviate stress and give people a reason to live because they now have another being to care for

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