you ever feel light and/or comfortable when petting and playing with a dog or a
cat? Dogs and cats may seem common to the society. However, these animals can
be a very helpful companion and can help improve your health conditions. Pet
therapy is a broad term that includes animal-assisted therapy and other
animal-assisted activities. Pet Therapy or Animal-assisted therapy is a rising
field that uses dogs and/or other animals to help people improve or better cope
with health problems, such as disease, cancer, and mental health disorders.
Just like the saying, “Dogs are man’s best friend” can also be,
“dogs are man’s best doctor”. Together let us see and understand more
about Pet therapy. Here are some stories in the Philippines about Pet Therapy
that helped people suffering from different sickness inside a hospital,
especially patients who have cancer. Since 1997, dogs such as Pakko and
Freckles have been delighting everyone they meet during Dr. Dog visits
coordinated by the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).  These dogs visit the cancer ward of the
Children’s Medical Hospital, the Laverna Home for the Aging Nuns and with
orphaned children. Dr. Dog in the Philippines is a powerful tool, not only for
helping and for healing people but also for changing attitudes and teach
children across the Philippines to join PAWS in their campaign to teach
kindness to animals. Another dog named Cloie a Golden Retriever dog attend to
orphaned children in Bantay-bata to give them a fun playful Christmas day for
them. Dr. Dog Cloie plays as Santa Claus for the orphaned children.
Unfortunately, during Cloie’s time back in 1996, no hospitals in the
Philippines would entertain the idea of having dogs inside their facilities. If
laughter then is the best medicine, then Frankie (Pug) is the medicine for you.
Frankie is a funny dog and also known as the clown Dr. Dog. He brings many
smiles and laughter to the ill children at the Philippine Children’s Medical
center and the Philippine Cerebral Palsy Institute. Studies prove that spending
a 15 to 30 minute moment with your cat and dog pals reduces tension and
depression. Aside from that, playing with them more often also raises your
brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin. Pet owners have been found to have
lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart attacks. In Ateneo De Manila
University, they have a dog who works as a therapy dog at the Ateneo’s office
of guidance. Students stop in their tracks and break going to their guidance
office to release stress and have a good time with Bubu (the 3-year-old Golden
Retriever). According to their guidance counselor, students tend to open up
more easily when they spend a little time with Bubu and release stress. Pet
therapy has helped a lot of people by giving out pure and genuine love from
these lovely animals, they may sometimes look intimidation yet they are very
loving. How about you? Do you prefer a dog or a cat? Whichever of these cutesy
fur balls you choose, they can help you improve your health and lifestyle.


Have you ever heard about “Pet
Therapy”? Does it ring a bell in your ears? Or if you already know about
“Pet Therapy” is it really effective? But first, let us see where “Pet
Therapy” came from and its history.  The
animal-assisted theory evolved in the early hunting groups believed that
animals have spirits and supernatural powers. In the 18th century,
pet therapy was first used in England where patient who are mentally ill were
allowed to roam around in an area or a facility that contained a small number
of small domestic animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters and other small
indoor animals/pets. The animals served as a form of socialization for people
who are mentally ill. The practice was adopted in the late 80’s by the
Bethlehem Hospital, animals were provided in a ward so that the moral of the
hospital patients may be enhanced. Most of the
patients are cancer patients and often use this medium as their therapy to ease
their mentality to lessen their depression and sadness that they feel. During
the 19th century, it was encouraged by the US military to use dogs
as therapeutic way of dealing with psychiatric patients at St. Elizabeth’s
Hospital in Washington DC.. K9 dogs are
well-trained dogs that have a very good socialization with people. They may
look scary and aggressive yet they are very loving and supporting canine dogs.
Dr. Levinson was the first one who accidentally used pet therapy and discovered
it after leaving a cute dog with a stubborn child. When Dr. Levinson returned,
he helped in promoting the awareness of the human and pet bonding in the late
1961. Animal-assisted therapy
are commonly used in places like mental institutions, nursing homes, and
prisons. The most common animal assistant are dogs who are assisting people
with different kinds of disabilities. These dogs have the ability to accompany
patients to walk outside of their house or from the treatment facility to the
outdoors. These type of assistant dogs usually assist people who are blind.
However, there is even more than dogs that can help or be a medium of therapy
for people with disabilities. In the 17th
century, a different kind of therapeutic medium that was used by the ancient
Greeks. They use horses for people who are
suffering from emotional, cognitive, social, physical, behavioral, and
education skills of people with special needs. “Equine-assisted
therapy” is said to be effective in all of the things mentioned above. It
provides a different kind of neuromuscular stimulus to its rider or through its
step which mimics the human walking action. However, the term Animal-Assisted
Therapy may sound new to our ears, the use of animals to help people overcome
mental illness/disorders are already being used since then. It was first used
in the 18th centuries and continued to evolve up until now to help
people who are suffering from depression such as cancer patients from around
the world.

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Pet therapy has been helping people with mental
depression since the 18th century up until today it continues to
help them especially the cancer patients and people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Dogs help people in plentiful ways in helping like people with hearing, sight
and mobility challenges, to aiding law enforcement officers. Nevertheless, dogs
can also help people with mental health challenges. Therapy dogs are the
personal pets of individuals who have been certified to provide checkups to
people in need. These dogs are specially trained therapy dogs help people with
a variety of mental health conditions, including dementia. The mental benefits
associated with the use of therapy dogs include decreased anxiety, increased
sense of comfort and safety, reduced loneliness, enhanced self-esteem, and
confidence, increased prosocial behaviors, decreased behavioral problems. Dog’s
presence can be calming and animal therapy allows the benefits of touch in
therapy. A study was conducting where in people with Alzheimer who spends time
with therapy dog’s increases time telling memories and feelings and helping to
improve quality life. However, there can be limitations to Pet Therapy.

Animal-assisted therapy is a helpful therapy to
most of the depressed patients, to the children foundations, and most of the
cancer wards that are being visited by the pet therapy people. However, there
are disadvantages to this kind of therapy to the patients of pet therapy. Most
of the time, those who are undergoing this therapy might get attached to the
dogs/animals. The PAWS have a dog, a “golden retriever” dog that
regularly goes to a cancer ward of the Children’s Medical Hospital but
unfortunately, the golden retriever dog died and they are hiding it from the
kids that the dog died because it can stimulate sadness to the children.
Emotional attachment to the dogs can be one of the disadvantages of this
therapy. Also, it is not for everyone because not everyone is comfortable with
dogs, some of them are scared of dogs, and the other people are allergic to
dogs. Even other animals can transmit different kinds of bacteria and diseases.
Medical issues, individuals with a compromised immune system. The odor of the
animals is also another disadvantage of the pet therapy. Since their animals,
they will have different odors. For example, some dogs have a distinct smell
that can somehow be a hindrance in cuddling with the dog. However, not all dogs
and pets are smelly there are only some and few.

In conclusion, Pet Therapy or Animal-assisted
therapy is an effective way of helping people who are mentally depressed and
people who are suffering from cancer who are mentally sad/depress. However, not
all can be treated by pet therapy because of the said disadvantage of the
therapy such as uncomfortable with animals, allergies, odor, and medical
issues. Nevertheless, pet therapy is a recommendable, easy and cheaper way of
treating people who are a mentally depressed individual. 


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