Pet therapy, description and use

Pet therapy, description and use

Pet therapy is a gentle therapeutic system focused on the interaction between humans and animals . Let’s find out better.
>   What is  pet therapy

>   Benefits and contraindications

>   For whom is  pet therapy useful 

>   The law in Italy and abroad

>   Curiosities about  pet therapy
Pet Therapy

What is  pet therapy

With the term pet therapy , or AAT (Animal-Assisted Therapy), we mean a gentle therapeutic system focused on the interaction between humans and animals .

The idea of ​​using some animals to improve the quality of the convalescence of the sick or more simply the daily reality of disabled people arises from the observation of the effects deriving from the interaction between sick people and the presence of an animal. In many cases, being close to a dog or cat is shown to have an additional effect to that of many medications or other conventional therapies.

Pet therapy is also used as a game , for socialization, to promote communication and the development and / or strengthening of spheres such as responsibility and self-esteem.

Egyptians and Greeks believed in the therapeutic power of animals over sick people. Traces of animal therapies are found around the end of the 1700s in England. In the early 1940s, in America, it seems that the Red Cross had started a pet therapy program.

The term pet therapy was coined by the child psychiatrist Boris Levinson who, in 1953, during a session with an autistic child, noticed that the presence of his dog improved in the child the desire to interact with the therapist, but also the desire to play with the ‘animal.

Levinson demonstrated that the affection of an animal produced an increase in self-esteem and positively affected the need for love of his patients. Today, pet therapy is practiced with various animal species, especially dogs, cats, horses, and dolphins. 



Benefits and contraindications of Pet Therapy

When a man has to relate to another man he inevitably introduces his point of view into the relationship. In cases involving children with disabilities, for example, one behaves coldly or conversely with excessive compassionate zeal. The difference between man and animal lies in prejudice . The animal relates to a human being in a simple way.

The patient therefore interacts with a living being, considering it equal to himself, without judgments, managing to relate in a healthy way. This allows you to re-evaluate your socialization patterns.

Among the benefits of pet therapy there is also the reduction of the state of stress, the positive effect on states of anxiety, the better blood circulation and the lowering of the cholesterol level. As for the man there seem to be no contraindications . Unfortunately, there are some for animals. Often, after a few years, when the animals are no longer puppies or available to be handled by many people, they are abandoned. 


For whom is pet therapy useful?

Pet therapy has good results with the elderly, the chronically ill and the disabled. Some studies have shown satisfactory results in the treatment of schizophrenia .

This therapeutic technique proves useful in bringing autistic or depressed children out of their psychological isolation. Even in cases of long hospitalization or coming out of a coma, pet therapy helps fight depression , anxiety and insomnia .

As a gentle therapy to complement traditional therapies, pet therapy is aimed at patients suffering from learning and attention disorders, psychomotor disorders, anxious and depressive neuroses, Down syndrome, West syndrome, autism, senile dementias, psychotic pathologies and multiple sclerosis.


The law in Italy and abroad

A pet therapy experience is the result of a team of different professionals : doctor, psychologist, veterinarian, ethologist, instructor and therapist. Over time, interest in pet therapy activities has also grown in Italy and the demand in the area has increased.

Associations, rehabilitation centers, schools, retirement homes are interested in new support therapies, new recreational modalities to be included in their programs to increase the quality of life within their structures. The recognition of pet therapy took place with the Prime Minister’s Decree of February 28, 2003, which acknowledges the agreement between the Ministry of Health, the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces, regarding the welfare of pets and pet therapy.

The attention paid to pet therapy at a legislative level allows the discipline to have a scientific and procedural dignity in Italy as well. The attempt to regulate the AAT programs at a national level frees these contributions from the ‘do-it-yourself’ forms. 


Curiosities about pet therapy

The ranking of animals used in pet therapy sees at the top the dog , man’s best friend, and to follow we will have cats , hamsters and rabbits , horses , birds (in particular parrots), aquarium fish and dolphins . To close the ranking, a series of farm animals such as donkeys, goats and cows . 


Other articles on pet therapy:

Onotherapy, characteristics and benefits

The therapeutic power of cats

Dog therapy: pet therapy against depression

Cat therapy: the 5 reasons to have a cat with you

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