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Jul 07, 2024

The gentle purr of your fluffy cat lying next to you. The sigh as your dog makes itself comfortable at your feet and starts falling asleep. These magical little moments are the ones every pet parent treasures. Did you know that your pets can help you recover faster if you are sick or injured?

Therapy animals have been used to improve patient wellbeing for decades. From Golden Retrievers to Shetland ponies, pets have made a significant difference in people's recovery. Here’s how your pets can help you and how animals have made a difference over the years.

Get up and get busy

Physical activity is essential for recovery. Regular exercise can improve your heart health, build and strengthen muscle, and increase your overall energy levels, speeding up your recovery. It can also help to reduce chronic pain and improve your overall mobility, again speeding up the recovery process.

Your pets are your motivation to get up and get busy. Whether you take your dog for a walk, throw a ball, or even groom your cat, these activities can all help you stay active and get the blood pumping.

Research suggests that people who have dogs walk about 20 minutes more per day than those who don't.

Happiness on four paws

The emotional support, unconditional love and companionship that pets provide can be especially comforting when recovering from surgery or injury. One of the biggest problems people with health issues face is loneliness and isolation. Caring for your pet and taking care of their needs can give you a sense of purpose and routine, taking your mind off the overwhelming recovery process.

In the study, Pet Ownership and the Risk of Arterial Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease, researchers found that having pets may reduce the risk of death from any cause, particularly from cardiovascular causes. Additional studies also indicated that having pets may reduce the risk of developing hypertension and improve blood pressure control in patients with established hypertension.

All of this can reduce stress and anxiety and increase feelings of happiness.

A furry friend that helps you make friends

All animals are inherently social creatures. So, having a pet that enjoys going out can help you get out when you would have stayed inside instead. If you take your dog on a walk, you might end up striking up a chat with a fellow pet parent, making a new friend in the process, or even setting up a playdate for your dog.

Animal therapy for mental health recovery

Equine therapy has long been used to promote physical, mental and emotional wellbeing in people with anxiety, depression, brain injuries, behavioural issues, abuse issues, and many other mental health problems.

Moreover, pets can be particularly beneficial to prevent anxiety and depression in children undergoing medical treatment. When animals visit paediatric wards in hospitals, they lift the spirits of the young patients and help them cooperate better with treatment.

While pets have long been people’s daily companions, they actually play an active role in their wellbeing. Whether it’s a trained therapy animal or your fluffy baby at home, they all have the potential to make a significant difference in your journey to recovery.

While most evidence has been purely anecdotal, more and more research is backing lifelong claims that people truly feel better when their pets are around.

*All exercise should always be done in moderation, and in consultation with your healthcare provider.



The heartfelt benefits of pet ownership. Harvard Heart Letter. 2022. Available here.

The Health and Mood-Boosting Benefits of Pets. HelpGuide. Accessed 2024. Available here.

Pet Ownership and the Risk of Arterial Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease. National Library of Medicine. 2022. Available here.

Using Equine Therapy as Mental Health Treatment. Verywellmind. 2024. Available here.

History of Equine Assisted Therapy. The Anxiety Treatment Center. Accessed 2024. Available here.

The Power of Pets. News in Health. 2018. Available here.

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