Whether you live alone or have a family, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a tough condition to manage. Flashbacks, nightmares, mood swings and emotional detachment are just some of the issues PTSD patients live with every day. But can having pet therapy help deter or resolve these symptoms?
Pet therapy has been an ever-growing force of treatment in the medical world to help patients suffering from many disorder. PTSD is another case in which having a furry companion around can have an effect on your healing.
Pet Therapy and PTSD
Animals demand constant attention and care from their owners, and some may think pet therapy begins with the animal taking care of the patient, but it’s actually the opposite. Having an animal to care for takes the mind off the day-to-day stresses of PTSD. Adding the responsibilities of pet care help your patients better manage his or her daily routine and start thinking of the pet, not the disorder.
Remember that everyone is different. When a dog may feel the best fit for ones’ needs, a cat could be better for another’s. Knowing which animal is better for a patient’s situation is the best way to begin pet therapy.
Choosing the Right Animal for Pet Therapy
Whether you are a soldier, a survivor of sexual or physical abuse, or suffered a life-threatening accident, pet therapy can work for a variety of people. Different animals can have opposing effects based on specific challenges with PTSD. Here is a brief look at some of the top animals for pet therapy.
Dogs– Service dogs are considered one of the most popular choices in pet therapy for those who feel ready to take on a pet. Dogs can be trained to comfort those suffering the mental and emotional side effects of PTSD. This can include turning the lights on after detecting a nightmare or waking their owner from a flashback. Dogs also have the ability to help with any physical demands like opening doors, supporting weight, and guiding patients around a room
Cats– While they can’t meet all of the physical demands a dog can, cats are great pet therapy for PTSD. Cats are considered to be better emotional support animals than service pets. There are different breeds that can help with whatever the patient feels they need help with. They are great in lessening a stressful situation by lowering heart and breathing rates through rhythmic petting. Having a cat around to pet puts their needs first, taking the mind off any current stressors.
Horses– While this may seem like an odd choice, horses offer many benefits to those with PTSD. Working with a larger than life animal helps patients step out of a normal routine and gain confidence learning new skills. Horses are also similar creatures to those with this disorder. Both often feel uneasy and can be startled by sudden sounds. Having this in common, riders and their horses have the chance to connect in an unusual way.