- Created in Living With Your Pet, Children and Pets
If you have a child who is struggling, pet therapy for children is a proven therapy treatment that works for a variety of conditions. Your child will likely respond very well to an emotional support animal. Your veterinarian can offer more information about this form of treatment, too.
What is Pet Therapy For Children?
Pet therapy for children is the use of pets to provide emotional support for a child who needs it. Growing up is very tough, even when everything goes “right.” But when extenuating circumstances come into play, such as physical, mental, or emotional disabilities, then children may need more—and different—help than what they can get from their parents or caregivers.
Pet therapy provides that additional resource so that children have a non-judgmental living creature to relate to, confide in, and just spend time with. Pet therapy works in care environments like hospitals, but it also works when the pet is part of a family at home.
What Conditions Pet Therapy Can Help With
Pet therapy has long been used to help with a wide range of conditions, like:
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Behavioral disorders
- Developmental disabilities
- Muscular dystrophy
- Bell’s palsy
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Pet therapy not only helps the child. Pet therapy can also indirectly help parents and caregivers since having the pet as additional support can feel like having another source of therapy available in the home. When a child is unable to get what they need from an adult, they can turn to the pet for emotional support.
Advantages of Animal-Assisted Therapy
Animal-assisted therapy is a method of therapy where companion animals are used to help a person manage health issues and/or the side effects of certain prescription medications. Therapy animals may be visitors to children in hospitals or care facilities, or they may become permanent therapy animals placed in the child’s home, much like a family pet. The benefits of animal-assisted therapy include:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Improved heart health
- Pain reduction
- Improvement in fine motor skills
- Improved social engagement
- Increased exercise/physical activity
If you’re intrigued and excited by the idea of having a pet as therapy for your child, talk to your veterinarian. Your vet can help you to find emotional support animals and ensure that your new pet receives the best veterinarian care as well.