Pet Therapy: The new face of physical, psychological, and therapeutic care for the 21st Century with your help…


Fig 1 Pet Therapy https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/800/1*gChPu7JLNfCAUI1pB2nLeQ.jpeg

Have you ever noticed how many sports teams use animals as mascots, e.g., Detroit Tigers, Denver Broncos, etc.? How many food companies utilize them to advertise their products, e.g., Tony the Tiger, Chester Cheetah, Charlie the Tuna, etc.? Or how people tend to become emotional when talking about their pets? It is not a coincidence.

Throughout time, dating back to 1000 BC, “humans and dogs and cats have shared a special bond.” (Hajar). Today’s medical professionals are understanding how significantly beneficial that relationship actually is to our physical, psychological, and overall health; hence the increasing interest in an ancient alliance.

The purpose of this essay is to highlight the objective, scientific proof of animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) as adjunctive therapy for a variety of patients as a proactive measure to decrease loneliness in seniors, decrease hospitalizations for chronic disease sufferers, and deter pharmaceutical dependence. (Krause-Perello). And to inform curious and/or concerned individuals how to get involved and benefit as well.

Fig. 2 Dr. Dog to the Rescue https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/800/1*kRyajrGtEZqnRoGLpi9jTw.jpeg

Fig. 3 Pet Therapy https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/800/1*KCRWVZgZHkpqGw8vqW7nYA.png

“Animal-assisted therapy began in the early 1990s. This form of therapy uses small and large animals to help patients or individuals deal with mental, emotional and physical issues. Dogs are typically used, but some programs also have horses, donkeys and alpacas or llamas. Animal therapy is primarily offered in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and long-term care facilities, but increasingly are popping up in airports, schools, colleges and other places where individuals may experience high stress or anxiety.” (“Discover The Benefits Of Animal Therapy On College Campuses”).

Fig. 4 Stressed College Student https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1200/1*D0zQt8qu5-IVeEFBeSLd8A.jpeg

Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAIs) have become so widely implemented that “(m)ore than a dozen registered therapy dogs and their handlers are part of Mayo Clinic’s Caring Canines program. They make regular visits to various hospital departments and even make special visits on request. The dogs are a welcome distraction and help reduce the stress and anxiety that can accompany hospital visits.” (“Therapy Dogs Bring Joy And Healing”).

In the video, presented below, labeled “The Health Benefits of Pets,” Dr. Edward Creagan elaborates upon the scientific research conducted to confirm the biological reactions stimulated by the interactions with our pets as well as the “tremendous healing power” animals possess. Powerful enough for Dr. Edward Creagan to testify to its life-sustaining effect, despite all odds, in a patient in a life-threatening condition.

Fig. 5 “The Health Benefits of Pets” https://youtu.be/GKMpUyddFyo

After considering the clinical evidence for and professional testimony of pet companionship and therapy, let’s examine AAIs from the animal’s perspective. This next video is titled: “A day in the life of Fraser.” It is a compelling piece giving us an insight into the recipients’ mind frame before Fraser’s visit and then the positive effects afterward; not only for the patients but likewise for Fraser.

Fig. 6 “A Day in the Life of Fraser” https://youtu.be/ltcyXqnqpCA

However, despite the clear physical, as well as psychological impact pet therapy has had on a myriad of individuals including, but not limited to, clients, students, business professionals, and patients with differing diagnoses, e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder, dementia, depression, autism, cancer patients, seniors etc., a majority of health insurance agencies have yet to recognize animal-assisted interventions as a medical discipline.

The effects AAIs have had on reducing hospitalizations, pharmaceutical dependencies, and preventive-care measures are so overwhelmingly conclusive that there are few objections as to why health-care providers should not fund this type of health service going forward. (Krause-Perello).

As the chart accordingly illustrates only a combined 12% of insurances, ranging from private to Medicaid combinations, fund AAIs.

Fig. 7 Animal-Assisted Therapy https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/800/1*ub49gBPk-YQiRdNf9GxRNA.jpeg

The majority of AAIs sponsorship comes from private donors and support from people just like you. Would you consider volunteering, donating, or involving yourself and your pet in providing an invaluable service to an underserved community e.g., seniors, veterans, autistic children, cancer patients, hospice care, etc.? It is a mutually beneficial endeavor!

Your involvement, in any capacity, would be greatly appreciated. Below are a few links to agencies involved in AAIs. Thank you!

Alliance for Therapy Dogs

Paws for People

Pet Partners

Work Cited:

“A Day In The Life Of Fraser: Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals’ Pet Therapy Program”. Youtube, 2018, https://youtu.be/ltcyXqnqpCA. Accessed 29 Nov 2018.

“Discover The Benefits Of Animal Therapy On College Campuses”. Affordablecollegesonline.Org, 2018, https://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/animal-assisted-therapy-on-college-campuses/. Accessed 29 Nov 2018.

“Dr.Edward Creagan, The Health Benefits Of Pets”. Youtube, 2018, https://youtu.be/GKMpUyddFyo. Accessed 29 Nov 2018.

Hajar, Rachel. “Animal-Assisted Therapy”. Pubmed Central (PMC), 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4485208/. Accessed 21 Nov 2018.

Krause-Parello, Cheryl A. “Human-Animal Connections And Nursing Science: What Is The Relationship?”. Nursing Science Quarterly, vol 31, no. 3, 2018, pp. 239–242. SAGE Publications, doi:10.1177/0894318418774901.

“Therapy Dogs Bring Joy And Healing”. Mayo Clinic, 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/pet-therapy/art-20046342. Accessed 29 Nov 2018