The Overall Therapeutic Value Of Pets

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While many people think of dogs when therapy pets are mentioned, a large number of animals can be used for therapeutic reasons and give hope to the people who own and interact with them as well. From cats to birds, and even with the inclusion of small rodents, animals can have a powerful healing influence on people and can help us through some of our worst moments in life. Perhaps this is why humans have been keeping pets for as long as we can look back into recorded history. Truly, animals add a value to our lives that cannot be accounted for in any other way.

The most famous of therapy animals are of course the dogs, the animals known for being most loyal to man and for their intensely loving nature. These animals have been trained to help people with depression, autism spectrum disorders, PTSD, and a number of other conditions as well. They can be seen both with loving owners who keep them for their personal use and therapy needs, and within businesses and schools where therapists utilize them to aid in traditional therapies. One of the biggest benefits with dogs is that that they can be any size or shape, allowing every person who comes across them to have a different therapy experience that truly fits their needs.

The next most common animal is the cat, the direct opposite of the dog, but still beloved by millions across the world. Therapy cats generally have less training, but are naturally good at providing the emotional support that people interacting with them need. Recently therapy cats have been appearing in nursing homes, schools, and even in magazine spreads as they comfort young children with autism, muscular disabilities, and veterans with PTSD and other combat traumas. People on all sides of the spectrum comment on the calming nature of a cat's purr and the warmth of their bodies on your lap during your darkest times.

There are other pets that are used for therapy as well. Some people have found success with pot-bellied pigs, birds, and even small rodents to help them through mental turbulence and other forms of trauma. Pigs are amazingly smart and easy to train, birds are able to lift hearts with their simple songs, and small rodents are warm, cuddly, and inquisitive without being too large for people in small spaces to care for with ease. Finally, fish can be used for therapeutic purposes with people losing themselves in the soothing movements within their tanks and being calmed by the water that surrounds them as well.

No matter their size, therapeutic pets seem to be a window into a softer and calmer world of therapy. The recognition of their abilities is a great boon for victims who may feel less comfortable with humans, need more physical contact during their recovery than is generally permissible within society, or individuals who need something they can truly put their trust into without the risk of it being betrayed.

Jonathan Leger is a freelance writer and small business owner. He runs a popular question and answer website with a section dedicated to pets at