Here’s a little something that will be a surprise to hardly any animal lover: animal-assisted therapy (AAT) can be a big contributor to positive results in treatment for physical, social, emotional, or cognitive problems in children.
It has already been documented that adults will see a reduction of anxiety and pain severity with AAT, and there is a ton of anecdotal evidence to support the benefits of animal visitations with children suffering from physical or mental trauma, though we still have a ways to go in collecting and measuring the results.
But so far we do know that hospitalized children are more independent, have better appetites, pain reduction, and less fear of their experience/treatment. Some children with autism have shown remarkable improvement in the presence of a therapy dog, as well.
And, like many working animals, therapy dogs love their work. They couldn’t be happier around their people: the attention, the fawning, the petting — what a tough “job” to have! Talk about a mutually beneficial arrangement!
Animal-assisted therapy is an example of the human-animal bond at its finest — a growing field of study we can count on to yield even more benefits as it is further explored.