Pet Therapy is a guided interaction between a person and a trained therapy animal. The most common animals used in Pet Therapy are dogs, but cats and horses have also been studied and proven to improve health and well-being.
Interaction with a gentle, friendly pet has significant benefits on both our mental and physical health. Physically, it can lower blood pressure, improve heart health, diminish overall pain, and has a relaxing and calming effect. Mentally we see benefits like lessened depression, decreased feelings of isolation and increased communication, decreased anxiety, reduced boredom, and increased life motivation.
Some of the people who benefit most from therapy animals are:
- People living in long-term care facilities
- People having cancer treatments
- People with dementia
- People with Cardiovascular diseases
- People with PTSD
- People with other mental health concerns
- People needing help with literacy
Some of the more common places you can find therapy animals is in Long Term Care facilities and hospitals, but they are also more common than you think in other places. Libraries often run programs for children or people with literacy issues. Airports often have them to help lessen anxiety in people about to fly.
Outside of trained therapy animals, the benefits to having a pet or visiting a friend or family member with a pet, are just as beneficial. Many volunteer opportunities also exist at the Humane Society as well as other pet rescue organizations across Winnipeg that offer the benefit of spending time with and helping animals in need.
If you think you or someone you know could benefit from Pet Therapy here are a few local resources of places that can help you connect with therapy animals:
St. John’s Ambulance, Pet Therapy Program - 1-800-471-7771
SymaTree Farm, Equine Therapy – 204-755-2656
Winnipeg Humane Society, See Spot Read – 204-982-2021
MSAR, Service and Therapy Dogs – 204-777-0553