Human beings have been connected to nature and animals since the very beginning. At first, animals were treated as a source of food and clothing. With time, people began using them to assist with work in the fields or for protection of their farmstead. Animals were becoming more and more appreciated and eventually became an integral part of our life. Some ancient civilizations even worshiped animals and believed that they had magical powers. Today we often treat our pets and animals as best friends or family members.
Over time we’ve learned that animals are not only excellent companions, but they have a huge impact on our health and well-being. It is a proven fact that animals and pets can reduce human stress levels, improve mood, help relax, and even decrease blood pressure. Some of our pets need lots of attention and care, ultimately forcing us to engage in physical activity which is great for our general health.
Our animals are also truly invaluable when we are going through difficult times in our life. They can often help us regain the meaning and purpose of life, no matter what we may have been through. They help keep all our sorrows away and can work like anti-depressants. Additionally, they give us unconditional love and acceptance. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?!
Pets also have a great impact on our children. Friendship and caring for animals can teach our children tolerance, openness, and responsibility. It helps them improve their self-esteem thanks to which they gain confidence and abilities to better deal with difficult situations in their future lives. This all further translates to their education progress and professional achievements.
World Health Organization (WHO) has been recognizing positive influence of animals on human’s health for many years. All the information and scientific studies have helped to develop therapeutic methods, widely used today with many health conditions.
The most popular animals that are used in therapeutic programs are:
Horses – hippo therapy is a rehabilitation method for healing the human organism. This is an invaluable method for treating infantile paralysis, Down syndrome, Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD and multiple sclerosis. It is used by physical therapists, recreational therapists, occupational therapists, or speech and language pathologists. It is also proven that horse riding improved our posture, balance, coordination, strength and sensorimotor systems.
Dogs – dog therapy. It was discovered that dogs can stimulate the emotional sphere in people and develop empathy, reduce aggression or support concentration, cognitive skills and speech. Dog therapy is commonly used at autism, Down syndrome or ADHD.
Cats – felinotherapy. Felinotherapy (cat therapy) is defined as a potentially beneficial form of treatment for various psychological and physical conditions in humans. Petting and hugging cats decreases blood pressure and supports lower limb circulation which is very important for people with arthritis. Additionally sounds that are produced by cats reduce stress and anxiety.
Dolphins – (DAT dolphin assisted therapy). This type of therapy is recommended for children with developmental delays or cognitive disabilities, including autism, Asperger’s syndrome and Down syndrome. It has also been used to treat psychological conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
As you can see, having an animal has lots of positive aspects. We live in a world where we have to deal with problems and stress on a daily basis. People spend thousands of dollars per year on alcohol, medications or other stimulants to get rid of stress and just relax. But maybe the solution is easier than we think! Maybe we just need a true friend that will accept us the way we are and will give us pure unconditional love. It is clear that animals could never substitute conventional health care practices and treatments, but they definitely can help us find our inner peace through which we can become better people.
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