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Benefits of Companion Animals

There have been many studies that will indicate that pet owners have less illness, recuperate earlier from serious health conditions, and are more likely to be happier than people who do not own a four-legged or a feathered friend. People who have developed strong human-animal bonds have many benefits from being near an animal. Those who have animals as companions or are near animals have reported feeling less alone; interacting with a pet will make you feel as if you have company. Some people even talk to their pets. Dogs are a splendid companion especially in the loss of an immediate family member, dogs are also known to help fight depression, stress and anxiety.

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Animals have been proved to increase cardiovascular health and simplify social interactions among those who have pets. Although it is advised to some whose health is compromised, to relinquish their animal companions due to worries about their well-being. However, abandon their cherished pets could have an unfavorable, rather than favorable outcome on their healthiness. Having pets will increase your chances of meeting new people, who hasn’t been walking their dog and people talk to you about your dog (in a positive way of course) or they walk over to pet it and a pleasant conversation starts!

Dogs are the friendliest creatures that will be there for you no matter what. Cats, on the other hand, although funny and cute, they have a somewhat detached personality that might not quite work with you if you are actually looking for companionship. Cats are playful and charming, but they truly don’t “need you” to have fun, they are not as needy for attention as dogs, and you’ll probably find yourself chasing your cat for attention. Cats of course have their own advantages, they don’t bark which make them particularly suitable for small apartments and you don’t have to walk them for their “needs” at 9 pm in winter and wait for it to find the perfect spot to pee.

Equine Therapy

Echinotherapy or Hippo therapy is a physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy treatment approach that uses the horse’s movements as part of a program to accomplish efficient results. It is a comprehensive therapy employed by physical and mental health professionals, to promote rehabilitation of children, adolescents and adults at neuromuscular, psychological, cognitive and social using the horse as a therapeutic tool. Equine therapy includes various procedures directed at treating people with disabilities, in which the central element is the horse.

  • Hippo therapy: Consists of taking advantage of the horse’s therapeutic principles to treat people with physical disabilities, either congenital or developed. It is founded on aspects such as the transmission of body heat from the horse to the patient and the rhythmic tridimensional pulse.
  • Therapeutic Riding: Through contact with the horse and the motivation it creates, looks for solutions to learning and adaptation problems shown by people affected by a disability. Increases motivation, encourages emotions, improves focus and concentration, stimulates tactile, visual, auditory and olfactory sensitivity, increases guided learning and the capacity for independence.
  • Adapted Horse Ridding: Is intended for those who practice horseback riding as a sport or for recreational purposes but because of their disabilities require particular adjustments to ride the horse.
  • Therapeutic Vaulting: This equestrian discipline involves making gymnastic exercises on the horse's back and it’s mounted only with a blanket and a surcingle with handles especially designed for it.
  • Social Equine Therapy: Is an equestrian practice that improves the relationship established with the horse, to help people with social adjustment issues to overcome their struggles. Therefore, it helps them to reintegrate again to society in a smooth way.

The people who benefit most from equine therapy are those with the following illnesses

  • Patients with cerebral palsy (spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, and hypotonic)
  • Patients with psychomotor retardation
  • Patients with multiple sclerosis
  • Patients with Down syndrome
  • Patients with torticollis (crick) scoliosis and lumbago (backache)
  • Patients with stroke, head trauma and motor dysfunction sequels
  • Patients with Parkinson's disease
  • Patients with microcephaly and hydrocephaly
  • Patients with vegetative cardiovascular and chronic bronchitis syndrome
  • Patients with sensory issues or the absence of one of the five senses
  • Patients with autism and behavioral problems
  • Patients with minimal brain dysfunction
  • Patients with language problems, impaired mental focus and concentration
  • Patients with bulimia, anorexia nervosa and addictions
  • Patients suffering from neurosis, psychosis, schizophrenia and psychosomatic
  • Equine therapy has also been known to help people after surgery.

Currently there is no scientific foundation to suggest that equine therapy is effective for the treatment of autism, mental illnesses or other intellectual disabilities so this is why some consider equine therapy pseudoscientific. However, there are many publications that suggest its helpfulness as a complementary therapy, not be a substitute for other treatments.

Dolphins and Humans

Dolphin Assisted Therapy is a relatively new method in which the patient, mostly children interact with the dolphin as a treatment for kids suffering a variety of cognitive disorders including autism and A.D.D in patients ranging ages from 2 to 13. There are also programs for adults as well with different psychological and medical needs. Swimming with dolphins has revealed to help relieve mild to moderate depression. Even though it doesn’t take scientific study for pet owners to understand all the health benefits connected with loving their friends, science has provided proof of this statement. Sharing your life with an animal can boost your health and well-being in many ways. The benefits given to us by our animal friends are quite fascinating. Most recent research has concentrated on cardiovascular benefits, warnings about health emergencies, effects on the health, well-being of children and the elderly.

Guide Dogs

Guide dogs or Seeing Eye dog guide a blind or visually impaired person around obstacles, such as street crossing and getting around in general.

There are rules of acceptance for these helpful animals vary from country to country, there are laws that forbid the banning of assistance dogs or service dogs. These dogs are allowed by law, to accompany the owner to wherever he/she goes, without any restriction and should access to anywhere the general public is permitted. Restricting access to service dogs is illegal and it’s not required for them, to use any sort of identification badge, collar or leash. Public admittance rights of owners with service dogs vary according to country and region.

These particular dogs are of course a necessity for disabled people. One of the many causes for these therapeutic benefits is that most domesticated animals satisfy the basic human necessity to touch. Though criminals have shown long-term changes in their conduct after interacting with companion animals, in most cases they experienced mutual affection for the first time. Caressing, holding, snuggling, hugging or otherwise touching an affectionate animal can quickly calm and soothe us when we’re stressed. The companionship of a pet can also ease loneliness, and some animals are a excellent motivation for healthy exercise, which can considerably lift your mood.

Pets for older adults are crucial elements to aging well; companions efficiently help to handle life’s greatest vicissitudes, like retirement, the loss of loved ones, and all the physical changes of aging. Pets encourage playfulness, laughter, and exercise, which can help boost your immune system and increase your energy. Pets can offer a source of positive, nonverbal communication. The playful interaction and tender touch from a docile, well-trained, animal can help calm an Alzheimer’s patient and diminish violent conduct. Kids and grownups alike can benefit from playing with pets, spending time with pets are excellent sources of tranquility, leisure, recreation and relaxation, as well as a source of stimulation for the brain and body. Caring for a furry friend will bring a child immense joy and improve a child’s imagination and curiosity.

Although having pets may bring many benefits to our lives, owners tend to be happier, more independent and feel more secure than those without pets I would like to stress that having a companion animal is undoubtedly a serious responsibility; therefore it’s not suitable for everybody. You seriously need to think if having one is right for you and bear in mind the consequences, expenses and which kind of pet you are getting. Type and breed that best suits you and your household surroundings. Find a pet that meets your needs and lifestyle. You’ll benefit most from having a companion whose requirements are well suited with your lifestyle and physical abilities.

Things to consider when looking for a pet or companion animal

If you don’t like much outdoor activity, you probably should consider pets that would be happy to stay at home with you or like to have in-door activities. If you are a highly active person and enjoying outside activities like jogging, walking or running, a dog might be right for you. Canines are highly active, they love the outdoors, and they will help you keep you moving. Ask for advice on which breeds are best for you and remember that some of these dogs are stocky and require constant grooming.

When getting a pet for small children and the elderly it should be taking in consideration the size, energy and activity level of a pet. Puppies and kittens are extremely active, but they are delicate and must be treated with outmost care. Large or rowdy dogs could hurt you unintentionally, hit or bump over a small child or a senior adult who is unstable on their feet.

If you run neat and tidy household, then a free-roaming dog or long-haired cat may not be the best for you. Perhaps you could opt for the quiet presence of pets that are restrained to their housings, such as fish, rodents, birds, spiders and reptiles. You should unquestionably commit yourself to providing the best care and life quality of the pet you are agreeing to take care of for the rest of its life, or yours (Sometimes pets can outlive you) No matter what the situation is, get yourself a pet, don’t focus on the negative and try to get past all the cons that you might encounter about having a pet, consider all the positives that pet ownership will bring. You’ll find that your pet and you will be happier and healthier after finding each other.

References

1. Health and Social Benefits of Dog Ownership http://www.acac.org.au/pdf/benefitsofdog_ownership.pdf

2. Investigating the Therapeutic Benefits of Companion Animals http://www.egs.edu/faculty/donna-haraway/articles/investigating-the-therapeutic-benefits-of-companion-animals/

3. The Companion Animal in the Context of a New Interpersonal Relationship http://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses_hons/85/

4. Companion Animals and Human Health: Benefits, Challenges, and the Road Ahead http://www.journalvetbehavior.com/article/S1558-7878(10)00016-X/abstract

Society | Health


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