People recognize pets are excellent companions. They can also be therapists, healers, and teachers. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association conducted a survey in 2002 that showed 62 percent of Americans have pets.

The list of things needed by pets is a short list. They require basic shelter, food, veterinary care, and companionship. Pet owners get more in return than they give. Pets teach about love, improve physical and emotional health, and provide unconditional friendship and affection.

How Can Pets Be Teachers?

People of all ages learn about unconditional love, sharing, empathy, loyalty, and responsibility from animal companions. These are all qualities needed by the inner child in all of us.

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Caring for a pet teaches us about caring for our fellow human beings. A link has been established between how people treat animals and how other people are treated. Kindness to animals benefits people as well.

How Can Pets Be Therapists?

Under the right circumstances and combination of people and animals, pets serve as therapists. A companion animal may visit the nursing home and hospital patients in an animal-assisted therapy program.

The animal-human interaction requires training for the pet caregiver to guide the animals. So that the program is effective and safe, the animals are carefully screened. Credentialed professionals monitor the program in which specific therapy is desirable.

Staff and patients frequently experience improved communication and morale in less formal animal-assisted activities that have no specific therapeutic goals when animals are introduced to a group or an individual.

How Can Animals Be Helpers?

People with mental and physical disabilities receive a profound gift of independence from specially trained assistance dogs. Under the law, animal assistants are not considered pets.

They serve as the ears, eyes, and hands of human partners. The animals assist in the performance of everyday tasks that would be difficult or impossible without the animal’s assistance. Dogs detect changes in the odor, body language, and behavior that comes before a human partner’s seizure. They alert the partner to seek a safe environment.

How Can Pets Be Healers?

Pets are beneficial for physical and emotional health. People in all age groups gain a sense of fulfillment and purpose by caring for companion animals. Feelings of isolation and loneliness are lessened.

It is a known fact that happy, relaxed people become ill less frequently than people who suffer from depression and stress. Studies have shown that animal companionship helps lower cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Petting animals, grooming pets, and walking dogs all increase physical activity that slows bone tissue loss, improves blood circulation, and strengthens the heart. Pets are good medicine as well as good friends.


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