Rebecca Johnson, a nurse who heads the Research Center for Human/Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, says studies have been focusing on the fact that interacting with animals can increase people's level of the hormone oxytocin.
'That is very beneficial for us,' says Johnson. 'Oxytocin helps us feel happy and trusting.' Which, Johnson says, may be one of the ways that humans bond with their animals over time.
But Johnson says it may also have longer-term human health benefits. 'Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body's ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells, so it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier.'"
Dogs and cats have been helping the sick or dying in facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice settings for many years and with positive outcomes. "Horses have also become popular therapists for people with disabilities.
'The beauty of the horse is that it can be therapeutic in so many different ways,' says Breeanna Bornhorst, executive director of the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program in Clifton, Va. 'Some of our riders might benefit from the connection and the relationship-building with the horse and with their environment. Other riders maybe will benefit physically, from the movements, and build that core strength, and body awareness and muscle memory.'"--Julie Rovner.
So whatever the issue you or a loved one is faced with, look into animal therapy as a part of the healing process. Walk your dog, pet your cat, or ride your horse, you are benefitting yourself more than you know.
To read Julie Rovner's full article, click on the link below