The Healing Touch of Pet Therapy


As Seen in NW Retirement Magazine!

Truth is our emotional and physical well-being is closely linked. Does it not make sense that people who are ill or disabled would recover faster or be more at ease if they had something to look forward to, to laugh about or to cuddle with? It is a well known fact that the patient’s emotional state often takes a back seat to standard medical procedures.

As a pet owner, you know that animals can have a positive effect on the physical and psychological well being of individuals of all ages.

Having a pet brings out feelings of comfort, love and excitement. Your pet is there to comfort you when you are sad and greet you when you come home. Nobody else can show you the level of unconditional love and loyalty like a pet can. So it is not surprising to know that having a pet can offer great health benefits.

Imagine how you would feel if you and your pet are forced apart? The feelings of sadness, frustration and concerns are the result of when an individual is required to move into a nursing or care home where they will be separated from their pet. They may experience distress knowing that the pet is no longer a part of their lives. Wouldn’t that be devastating to you? This is why Pet Therapy is so important to their well being.

Nursing and care homes can quickly become a very lonely and boring place to be Residents become withdrawn and can even suffer from depression. The introduction of pet therapy means that these people have something to look forward to. Knowing that today is “pet therapy day” brings joy to these people.

“A little boy was lying in his hospital bed, staring at the ceiling. He shuffled over and the dog jumped up on the bed next to the boy and snuggled against him. Tears started streaming from the child’s eyes as he reached out to pet the dog. All he needed in that moment was a hug.”

Interacting with therapy pets brings on a significant improvement to the resident’s health. Their quality of life improves, as does their sense of well-being.

Improvements shown may include:

* Lower Blood Pressure
* Reduced Cholesterol
* Reduced Stress
* Reduced Anxiety
* Improved Self-esteem
* Improved Quality of Life
* A Better Sense of Well-being
* Improved Dexterity
* A Sense of Belonging and Connection

In fact, research has shown that patients who owned a pet were most likely to be alive a year after a heart attack than those without pets.

Also, it was determined that only 6 percent of heart patients who owned pets died within a year compared with 28 percent of people who did not.

Would seeing changes and results like these not make your heart swell with love and amazement? By bringing pet therapy into your facility, you can create these changes.

Specially trained Therapy Pets can either take up residence in nursing and care homes, or they are taken to visit to a facility. The patients and residents are encouraged to stroke, play, and cuddle the animal. Interactions such as these often result in the improved physical health and mental well-being of the patient – and the animals enjoy it too!

During a pet therapy session residents might be asked to do such activities as brushing the animal’s fur, or giving the dog a command. Such tasks allow the residents to exercise their physical, emotional, cognitive and social abilities. But most of all, a pet therapy session gives the residents someone warm and fuzzy to cuddle – a loving recipient of their affection.

A well organized pet therapy program benefits everyone. It gives volunteers the opportunity to provide a well-appreciated service to the community, the animals enjoy getting out into the community, and of course the patients benefit both psychologically and physiologically. They feel loved and special for that is what comes naturally to the animals. They have an intuitive nature and it reflects upon everyone around them. Animals make people smile and feel better…period.

Although dogs are the most popularly used pets in these programs, other animals may also be used. Pet owners or any pet program may include cats, guinea pigs, birds and rabbits.

So why not give it a try? Become a volunteer or suggest such a program in your facility. The results will be amazing!

For more articles on Senior and Care Homes please visit my webpage at or for more information on how I can support you and your facility

God Bless all of our furry friends;

Nicole Gruendl
Expert in creating a harmonious and peaceful workplace



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