Pet Play: Enhancing Your Mental Well-Being

Woman Hugging Her Dog // Healthier Pets Today

What is pet play? Animal therapy, sometimes known as pet therapy or pet play, involves using animals to help people cope and recover from certain physical and mental health disorders. Depending on the purpose of the therapy, users may select from a variety of animals, such as dogs, horses, and birds. Animal-aided therapy is not the only treatment option in most circumstances, but it can be beneficial for some people. Let’s delve into this guide and explore pet play. 

What Is Pet Play?

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Animals are used in various ways to treat people with certain physical or mental health concerns. This practice is known as animal therapy, pet therapy, or animal-aided therapy.

When someone is in need, animals may be able to comfort them, warn others when someone is in danger, or even take immediate action to improve their health. It’s a subset of alternative or supplementary medicine. It ought to supplement other therapies, not take their place.

Generally speaking, the purpose of animal-assisted treatment is to reduce or, to the extent feasible, aid individuals in managing certain symptoms of various diseases.

Depending on the individual’s condition, the animal, and the type of therapy offered, there may be significant variations in the specific kind of animal therapy.

The human-animal link, which characterizes people’s desire to engage with and relate to animals, is the foundation for animal therapy. Many people find that they can develop a bond with friendly animals through interaction. The person may become calmer as a result of this link. The person may benefit from this in several ways, including:

  • reducing boredom
  • increasing movement and activity through walks and play
  • providing companionship and decreasing loneliness
  • increasing social interactions
  • improving mood and general well-being

Excellent relationships with animals can significantly affect the mind and body, including lowered stress levels and a general mental and emotional equilibrium state. Pet play selectively uses this link to accomplish its goals.

How Does Pet Play Work?

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The objectives of animal therapy can vary, and these will dictate its effectiveness. Depending on the patient’s condition and the assistance they require, the therapy’s focus and kind may vary. Among the instances are:

  • Bringing comfort and lowering pain thresholds
  • Enhancing motor abilities or movement
  • Acquiring behavioral or social skills
  • Boosting motivation for pursuits like physical activity and social interaction

The handler, who frequently owns the animal therapy, is usually responsible for bringing the animal to each session. The handler will work under the supervision of a physician to assist the patient in achieving their therapy objectives.

Many groups link handlers to healthcare providers and provide them with training. Many handlers are self-employed. In order to receive approval for therapy use, both the animal and the handler must go through a series of certification processes with these associations and organizations.

In most cases, the handler must complete a course that teaches them how to work with people and conduct the therapies they might offer.

The animal must also pass a few inspections. These will involve examining the animal physically to ensure it is disease-free and generally healthy and reviewing immunization records. Temperament testing will also be required to ensure that the animal behaves appropriately around the handler and other people.

The couple will also receive obedience training. In addition to helping the individual have the most incredible therapy sessions available, this stringent testing and accreditation guarantee the professionalism and safety of all parties involved.

It is crucial to understand that a therapy dog and a service dog are not the same thing and do not have the same rights. A therapy dog, for instance, is not permitted to enter a commercial setting with its handler.

Who Might Benefit?

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People with a variety of health concerns may benefit from animal therapy.

Mental Health

According to Pet Partners, these treatments may enhance several significant stress and disorder signs by:

  • Lowering tension and anxiety
  • Lowering the sense of pain
  • Lowering anxiety or fear-related emotions
  • Enhancing sentiments of social support
  • Supplying inspiration, energy, and concentration

According to a review study, animal therapy seems to have broad advantages for psychological and physical well-being. The most vital support for animal-aided treatment appears to be seen across the widest spectrum of individuals’ anxiety and depression symptoms.

The researchers suggest that the therapy may be helpful for individuals with a wide range of diseases and ages. For instance, a 2019 study discovered that using therapy dogs increased the effectiveness of teenage mental health therapies.

When combined, these elements could help the therapy with some parts of the following conditions:

  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Adhd)
  • Schizophrenia

Research utilizing therapy dogs and horses has demonstrated that animal therapy may also be able to lessen the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Working with an animal can help some persons undergoing therapy for drug use disorders behave better and feel more at ease.

Physical Health

A few types of animal therapy may also be beneficial for illnesses that have physical indicators. Such as:

  • Epilepsy
  • Cardiac dysfunction
  • Suffering from cancer therapy
  • After surgery recovery
  • Recovery from a significant stroke or another disease that impairs motor abilities

Working with an animal may encourage patients to stick with therapy, improve their mood, and lessen pain symptoms in these situations. It might assist them in moving correctly and exercising frequently for physical ailments.

Furthermore, certain long-term care institutions might provide pet therapy services to enhance residents’ overall well-being and mood.

According to a Psychogeriatrics study, dog-assisted therapy helped lower depressive symptoms in long-term senior care facilities. According to the research, dogs promote favorable emotional reactions and social engagement.

Nevertheless, additional investigation is required to validate the advantages of animal therapy.

Risks to Pet Play

Though it might not suit everyone, animal therapy might benefit those with specific medical conditions.

Some people may be allergic to the animals frequently used in therapy. For example, dander from shedding dogs causes allergies in many people. For many, using a dog for animal therapy could be more detrimental than beneficial.

Some could find the animals unsettling or frightening. Given that it would put them under more stress, they might not select this therapy.

In certain instances, a person may grow rather quickly connected to the animal. This emotion may cause someone to become possessive or feel less satisfied with therapy.

Furthermore, therapy animals may carry specific diseases or infections when they visit hospitals and other long-term facilities. For any animal, comprehensive testing is crucial because there’s a possibility they could infect others.


Complementary therapies include animal therapy. They should only support or supplement other forms of treatment; they are not a foundation for the management of any illness. They do not take the place of other types of therapy, such as physical or psychotherapeutic therapy.

However, not everyone will benefit from this type of therapy. If an individual is not interested in trying animal therapy or does not respond well, they may inquire about alternative possibilities. Depending on the individual’s condition, these options will change.

It’s not for Everyone

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Regular sessions with professionally trained animals and their handlers are part of animal therapy. It seeks to support people in managing illnesses related to their physical and mental health. Physicians and mental health professionals may prescribe and conduct animal therapy for various diseases with individual patient goals. Alternative treatments are available for those who dislike animal therapy or, for other reasons, choose not to use it. Anyone thinking about using animal therapy should speak with a physician or mental health professional about the procedure and its benefits.