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Carrie & Riker

The Benefits of a Therapy Dog During a Session

The simple act of petting an animal can release relaxing hormones. It may also lower blood pressure and improve physical health.

A therapy animal is distinct from a service animal, which performs specific tasks for a person with a disability. It is also not the same as an emotional support animal, which provides companionship and support to a person with mental or physical health issues. Therapy animals undergo training to ensure they can safely and positively interact with people.

These animals can be a catalyst for therapeutic breakthroughs. They may ease the minds of anxious children and adults and serve as an additional tool for connection in therapy.

How They Help

Animal-assisted therapy offers numerous benefits for all age groups. Research suggests that spending time with animals may:

  • Lower anxiety
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Improve pain management
  • Assist people with dementia in recalling memories
  • Slow breathing

Animals can be especially helpful in autism therapy. Some autistic children feel more comfortable with animals than with people. This can help break the ice in therapy and establish common ground. Animal lovers may feel more comfortable talking about their emotions and experiences when an animal is present. Petting an animal while discussing traumatic memories may even help those memories feel less painful.