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Animal Therapy: Does it Work?

A+therapy+dog+wearing+a+yellow+vest.+Source%3A+https%3A%2F%2Fblog.pawedin.com%2Fdogs%2Fa-day-in-the-life-of-a-therapy-dog%2F
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Animal Therapy: Does it Work?

A therapy dog wearing a yellow vest. Source: https://blog.pawedin.com/dogs/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-therapy-dog/

A therapy dog wearing a yellow vest. Source: https://blog.pawedin.com/dogs/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-therapy-dog/

A therapy dog wearing a yellow vest. Source: https://blog.pawedin.com/dogs/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-therapy-dog/

A therapy dog wearing a yellow vest. Source: https://blog.pawedin.com/dogs/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-therapy-dog/


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Animal therapy is something that has been controversial for years. It has so far been difficult to determine whether working with animals actually helps those with mental disorders or sicknesses, but it is true that it does.

On ScienceDirect, they performed a study with animal-assisted therapy and patients dealing with anxiety. In one test, they had both males and females spend 30 minutes with a therapy dog. In another test, those same males and females spent 30 minutes with just a therapist.

In the test with the therapy dog, it was clear that the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) was significantly lower than the test with just the therapist. In other words, the patients were much calmer with the therapy dog than with the therapist.

If therapy dogs are helping people with anxiety more than therapists, who’s to say that they aren’t beneficial? Animals fill the void of loneliness that many people have when they don’t interact with people often. Animals – whether it be dogs, horses, or even a rat – can sense our emotions and when we spend time around them, we grow happier.

Cats, who are often viewed as evil and distant, are even shown to improve happiness. In one of their articles, Mental Floss says, “Cats create purr vibrations within a range of 20-140 Hz, known to be medically therapeutic for many illnesses.” They calm nerves and even reduce the risk of a heart attack. Do yourself a favor and go pet a cat, it might just save you from a heart attack!

In multiple places, schools and businesses are using animal therapy to calm students or customers down.

At the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh, the staff has dedicated every Tuesday to students dealing with stress to spend time with therapy dogs. As Gretchen Murphy-Zug says in an article by WESA, “Like, I can relax, just go back and chill and not worry about anything. Because, if nothing else, the dogs don’t care if you fail a class.”

They use therapy dogs to ease the worries students may have about upcoming tests or exams, which is ultimately a greater solution than what students were originally resorting to. Marni Greenwald says in the article, “We’ll sometimes see students who present with evidence of self-harm … We also see a fair amount of students with disordered eating,” (WESA). In an effort to prevent such occurrences, the Cathedral of Learning has successfully used therapy dogs as an alternative.

How amazing is that? Students can just walk outside and pet dogs when they feel stressed, and it’s not just once every couple months, it happens every Tuesday! Imagine how much calmer those students are about their tests, which most likely helps their grades improve.

The Cathedral of Learning isn’t the only place to use animal therapy.

In another article by The Florida Times Union, a dental office uses a therapy dog for patients that are scared of the dentist. By using a Weimaraner named Shadow, patients are able to calm down when they are nervous. Deitra Mohrman, a patient who claims to get anxious at the dentist, even goes so far as to say that Shadow is “better than laughing gas,” (The Florida Times Union). 

Dogs and animals are so useful to society. They help people cope with their emotions and cheer them up when they’re down. It’s one of the reasons so many people own pets. Whether it be a bird or a dog, animals and pets will always have a positive effect on us.

Studies and personal experience prove that animals help us. Despite this, though, people still have issues believing in animal therapy. Just how much more evidence is needed before it is accepted?

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Animal Therapy: Does it Work?