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Pet Therapy – The power of pets

We’ve got the world at our fingertips…via our electronic devices!  But this kind of touch doesn’t bring the comfort that we humans crave.

When fur and fingers find each other, something magic happens between us and our fuzzy friend.  There is an awakening of trust and empathy.  The power of pets in our lives is magnificent.

Pets bring the present moment to our attention. They interact with entire focus whether it is delighting in a perfectly delivered chin scratch or unblinkingly hopeful eyes staring into our own, desiring fully the throwing of a stick.

In this moment of presence, we can forget all that is playing in our minds and focus on playfulness with the animal in front of us. We can easily allow unconditional and uncomplicated love to flow from our heart.

We can be our authentic selves, freely feeling a special bond or connection with our pet.  Pets are non-judgmental listeners. They offer us companionship without the fear of rejection or evaluation.

A devout cat lover, Florence Nightingale’s notes on nursing mentions: “An invalid, in giving an account of his nursing by a nurse and a dog, infinitely preferred that of the dog; ‘above all, it did not talk’.”

Humans can experience a reduction in stress and anxiety in the presence of the human-animal bond, particularly by stroking, snuggling and holding a loving animal. Animals have been found to live longer with increased companionship, mutual affection and social support.

Many nursing homes and hospitals are integrating some form of Animal Assisted Therapy to reconnect people who may be feeling isolated. Animals seem to enjoy the patting, scratching and engagement and in turn, can give people a reason to communicate. Patients and residents, particularly those confined to a wheelchair or bed have anecdotally reported feeling energised, comforted and entertained by a visiting dog. After the visits, there is an opportunity to recall and share the experience.

Children’s reading programmes to a doggie audience encourages a boost in reading confidence, particularly in hesitant readers. The concept of the child relaxing while reading at their own pace is expected to be less intimidating than reading to peers. The dogs do not laugh, judge or criticise but listen attentively.

Image of Lloyd Smith in the hills with his dogs
Lloyd Smith – One of New Zealand’s best-known dog trainer and trialist. “I have given O2B Healthy K9+ to my champion dog Ace to overcome a troublesome joint injury with outstanding results.”

Bringing dogs to the workplace is a growing trend.  US studies show benefits such as lower absenteeism and closer relationships among co-workers where there is a presence of pets.  There is increased opportunity for dog-related communication to open interaction between colleagues.

New Zealand’s Nelson ARK has a rehabilitative training programme with a very special outcome.  Nelson ARK rescues unwanted and abused dogs and pairs them with young people who are perhaps losing their way, for an 8 week training course, after which the dogs are put up for adoption.

“Dog training teaches the value of patience, discipline and hard work. It also offers young people the opportunity to learn co-operative and considerate ways of dealing with problems which may arise during the training, which in turn provides alternative coping strategies in their own life.”

Several studies on Animal Assisted Therapy, have concluded blood pressure reduction, in the presence of pets, as well as lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels (reducing the risk of heart disease).

When looking at or touching an animal, our nervous system is calmed, with less stress hormones released into the body such as cortisol and adrenaline and an elevated release of brain happiness neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.

Statistically, pet owners/guardians are more sociable, have lessened tendency toward depression and can survive longer after a heart attack, than people without pets in their lives.

Regularly walking a dog has obvious benefits which can be combined with socialising. It’s easy to begin a conversation with “Hi, what is your dog/cat/bird’s name?”

Check out our range of Animal Health Supplements – A selection of human grade quality products to maintain and maximise inward and outward well-being for pets.

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