Pets are great therapists for their owners

Written by: Dr. Jaume Cañellas Galindo
Published: | Updated: 18/02/2020
Edited by: Top Doctors®

Pets keep company, reduce depression and offer entertainment in a selfless way, distraction from the pain of losing a loved one or a chronic illness.

There is scientific evidence that having a pet is beneficial to the health of its owners: it relaxes blood pressure and fights depression, stress and loneliness, it also promotes physical activity and improves the mental health of young and old.


Benefits of Pets in Children

Children who are in contact with animals develop social skills, improve their empathy, raise their self-esteem and learn the importance of respecting, loving and caring for their neighbors and all the creations of nature.

Having a pet also helps children activate their imagination and develop their psychomotor skills when they play, run, jump and exercise beside the animal.. In addition, it brings emotional and mental benefits to having fun with a pet, so that children eliminate tension and stress, discharge energy and improve their mood.


Benefits of Pets in Seniors

benefits of pets When the person grows, the benefits of having a pet are even greater, especially if it has psychiatric disorders such as depression or anxiety about the social and work dynamics that nowadays prevail in society.

Rebecca Johnson, a University of Missouri professor who researches the interaction between people and animals, says that pets are of the utmost importance to people since time immemorial, as they keep company and decrease levels of depression in times of crisis, offer entertainment and distraction from the pain of a loss, or as a relaxation therapy for illness. In fact, people often talk to their pets and share their impressions and feelings with them, thus reducing sadness, anxiety, anger or fatigue.


Zoo therapy, psychological therapy with animals

The therapeutic work with animals, the so-called zooterapia, is not a new term. In 1792, in England, a center for the mentally ill was founded in which they lived in open spaces in contact with nature and taking care of animals such as dogs, birds or rabbits, in order to alleviate their pathologies.

In 1977, the International Organization of Human-Animal Interaction was founded in order to share research on the interaction between humans and animals around the world. From here, psychology and psychiatry, little by little accepted that it is always advisable to always have a pet at home, since his company, in addition to all the benefits already mentioned, encourages communication with the family, and even has proven that animals counteract the effects of autism and serve as therapy for children with Down syndrome.


Equine therapy, Dolphin therapy and animal therapy

One of the most popular animal therapies is equine therapy, which, according to the National Equine-Therapy Center in the United States, uses horses in the treatment of movement disorders associated with various neurological and neuromuscular pathologies such as cerebral palsy, accidents multiple sclerosis, and brain trauma.

Also the Delfino-therapy is a very requested therapeutic support. The purpose of a Delfino-therapy is motivational, although other goals related to language, motor and conceptual thinking can also be achieved.

Small animal therapies are also recommended. Interacting with rabbits, guinea pigs, monkeys, prairie dogs, squirrels, meerkats, lion cubs, ground turtles, lambs or ponies improve people's moods, reduce stress and boost their emotional abilities. In addition, many people relax with the presence of these types of animals: various investigations have proven to help them decrease blood pressure.


Caring for a pet is also a responsibility.

Having a pet at home or resorting to animals as therapy is beneficial to health. Although some doctors and veterinarians recommend avoiding certain types of animals for the daily coexistence; such as reptiles and amphibians, since they are often carriers of Salmonella bacteria, which can endanger the health and life of infants and young children. Neither wild pets like monkeys, ferrets or chinchillas are recommended, as they can be dangerous to health and even be carriers of rabies or other bacteria.

Lastly, it should be remembered that, if a pet is decided, the responsibility for the welfare of the animal rests with its owners. The owner should always ensure the safety, health and proper care of the animal, since a pet can be a wonderful addition to the family as long as they are taken care of.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dr. Jaume Cañellas Galindo

Dr. Canellas is a leader in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at national and international level. Since 1990 he has established his private practice in Gerona. In the year 2012 I think the Fundacion Dr. Jaume Canellas a nonprofit foundation aimed at developing a medical specialty of psychiatry of the child and adolescent and child and adolescent clinical psychology serious and comparable to Hispanic-American level.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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