My roommate was on FaceTime with her family last night, which would include her four shiatzus. It was obvious how much she missed her pets; and after the phone call, she looked at me and expressed how much better she felt after seeing her dogs. It got me realizing how often I hear someone say how good it feels when they get to see their pets, and how happy they get when they are around their pets. I then recall times when I’ll be holding my cousin’s kittens or my friends’ dogs, and how much better I felt during that. So I decided to do some research and see if it was actually proven and known that pets are therapeutic for anyone. Here’s the insight I found:According to an article from American Journal of Critical Care, a randomized control trial was done to determine the effectiveness of lowering anxiety and additional factors with patients of advanced heart failure with a dog visit. This article was written by a combination of professors and statisticians of the School of Nursing and David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, as well as the Director of evidence-based practice and a cardiac nurse. The study consisted of 76 patients randomly assigned to 3 groups, with each group being watched over a period of time (longitudinal study). The first group received a 12-minute visit with a volunteer and the therapy dog, the second group was given just the volunteer, and the third and final group(control) had the standard treatment. The experiment was repeated several times, as this longitudinal study followed these patients to get effective results.
The results show that the volunteer and dog group had lowered artery pressure, with the P-value decreasing from .03 to .001. Comparing from the baseline risk, the results tell us that the group with the volunteer and the dog decreased anxiety and improved the health of the patients. We can agree that statistical significance has been found, and the rejection of the null hypothesis as well. From this study, the authors of the article concluded that animal assisted therapy helps patients facing heart failure.
Naturally, another source gives us more evidence that pets are therapeutic. Therapy Dog International (TDI) Inc. gives an interesting take on the subject, as the results from one of their numerous surveys conducted on their patients report back immense data that patients positively changed. The patients were observed as in a better mood, more social, and more alert than they had been prior to the study. The TDI report also provides more examples of experimental and observational studies done to get the same results.
Of course, this also goes for healthier people. An additional source infers on a psychological perspective that pets are therapeutic to humans. According to an article written by the Veterinary Clinics of North America on sciencedirect, having a pet and/or being around one can healthily influence one’s mental condition. It explains how the presence of pets tend to create an atmosphere of gentleness, peace, friendliness, and relaxation. In addition, the source gives numerous study examples that support the hypothesis that pets are therapeutic and beneficial to health. Examples of this would include:
- An observational study involving a participant, and noticing his social interaction level was higher when the researcher had a dog, compared to the researcher without the dog.
- A telephone survey conducted a random sample of 399 people (200 as pet-owners) that showed results saying that the pet-owners were not lonely and felt more social compared to non-pet owners.
- A cross-sectional survey of 127 senior citizens indicating pet owners walked more and were more engaged in physical activity than the senior citizens who did not have pets. 44 of the 127 were pet owners.
It appears that the presence of pets have seemed to help with people and have made a positive impact, based on the study results. Another study supports this, as well as supporting how pet therapy, in particular dogs are the pet of therapeutic source. Every study mentioned above included dogs in the experiments, which got me to dig a little more and see how beneficial dogs are. A case report on a ten year old girl with an unfortunate history gives interesting insight on this. Annie, a young girl who had an abusive father, was chosen to see if a dog would help her cope with her acting out, lying, aggressive behavior, and other side effects her abusive father placed upon her. She was observed before and after a session with Kotter, the dog. After her first session with the dog, there were signs of improvement, as her bad behavior declined, relaxation appeared present, and she was able to share her feelings. This study concludes the idea that pets and dogs are a reliably therapeutic source for any kind of person.
The list goes on and on. I’m not at all surprised by these results, as I have personally have genuinely felt happier when in the presence of pets. I myself do not have any pets, but whenever I get to see pets of people I know, I instantly feel better and am put in a happier mindset. So next time you’re feeling down and need a pick-me-up, go see your friend’s pet, or maybe invest in owning a pet someday. They aren’t lying when they said a dog is a man’s best friend! I’m already thinking of getting a Cavapoo puppy one day(puppy photo below), because who wouldn’t want to see this when they come home and is in need of peace, happiness, and relaxation?