Considered a form of alternative medicine, Animal Assisted Therapy is becoming much more widely accepted in today’s world. Animals as therapeutic tools can be greatly beneficial for patients suffering from all kinds of illnesses. Children with congenital diseases, senior citizens with poor sight, hearing, or mobility, and even those with special needs can all find relief in a certifiably trained animal.

It is no secret that our pets make us happy. The pure joy expressed by dogs, the love we receive from cats, and the general appreciation for life possessed by most animals is infectious. That boost in mood can actually have a bigger impact than you think. More and more research is being done connecting improved health with the introduction of animals.

There is a difference between Animal Assisted Therapy and Animal Assisted Activities, however. The therapy aspect deals with assisting those recovering from injuries or dealing with severe health problems, while those partaking in activities are typically for a much more general purpose i.e. keeping senior citizens company and providing enjoyment.

Animal therapy has the capabilities of greatly reducing pain, depression, or anxiety for people dealing with all types of health complications. One of the most common animals to become a certified therapy animal are dogs, and they have been doing so since the early recordings of history. However, not until 1976 did a program come about recognizing this new form of therapy, when Elaine Smith founded Therapy Dogs International, providing those in need with canine assistance regardless of the health complication one might be dealing with.

Alongside a trained handler, therapy animals of all sorts visit hospitals, retirement communities, and more to offer relief in all forms. Cats, horses, rabbits, and even birds are common animals used for therapeutic reasons as well, all of which can be trained to comfort those in distress. Military veterans suffering from PTSD or physical disabilities are another demographic that benefit greatly from this form of alternative medicine, as it can greatly improve psychological treatments.

While many people argue that Animal Assisted Therapy is nothing more than a distraction from one’s pain or health issues, there is no denying that actual results have been recorded from several studies. For those with terminal illnesses, there may be no better way to boost their moods than to introduce an animal dedicated to spreading love.