Animal Assisted Therapy & What Science Says
For Mental Health:
- The simple act of petting animals releases an automatic relaxation response.
- Humans interacting with animals have found that petting the animal promoted the release of serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin- all hormones that can play a part in elevating moods.
- Lowers anxiety and helps people relax.
- Provides comfort.
- Reduces loneliness.
- Increases mental stimulation.
- Assist in recall of memories and help sequence temporal events in patients with head injuries or chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- Can provide an escape or happy distraction.
- Can act as catalysts in the therapy process.
- May help break the ice.
- May reduce the initial resistance that might accompany therapy.
For Physical Health:
- Lowers blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health.
- Reduces the amount of medications some people need.
- Breathing slows in those who are anxious.
- Releases many hormones such as Phenylethylamine which has the same effect as chocolate.
- Diminishes overall physical pain.
- Relax more during exercise.
- Participants were motivated, enjoyed the therapy sessions more, and felt the atmosphere of the session was less stressful during Animal-Assisted therapy.
For Children with Autism:
- Many children with autism feel a deep bond with animals and feel that they are able to relate better than humans.
- Children with autism were engaged in significantly greater use of language as well as social interaction win their therapy sessions that incorporated animals compared to standard therapy sessions without them.
- Animal-Assisted Therapy Research Findings
- Animal-assisted therapy in patients hospitalized with heart failure
- American Journal of Critical Care, 2007
- Health benefits of animal-assisted interventions
- Complementary Health Practice Review, 2007
- Children with autism and therapy dogs in social interaction
- Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, 2010
- Dementia and animal-assisted therapy
- American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, 2003
- Dogs ease anxiety, improve health status of hospitalized heart failure patients
- American Heart Association Abstract 2513
- Benefits of animal-assisted therapy in hosptial ICUs
- John Hopkins University, 2018