Critter Corner: The Benefits of Pet Therapy

Dear Bebe,

Welcome to the Farr Law Firm! I saw you the last time I came to the office, and you were so friendly and comforting. So, I figured you would know a little something about pet therapy. I was wondering, what are the benefits of pet therapy? Thanks for your help!

Teri PewticPetz


Dear Teri,

Pet therapy is a broad term that includes animal-assisted therapy and other animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs, cats, bunnies, or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with stress, or health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders.

Imagine you’re stressed or sick. I’m sitting in your lap and you’re petting me and you realize you’re smiling. You suddenly feel a little less tired and a bit more optimistic. You can’t wait to tell your family all about that charming cat. In fact, you’re already looking forward to petting me again. That’s the therapeutic effect pets have on people. Here are some other benefits of pet therapy: 

For mental health:

• Decreases isolation and depression;
• Causes many to feel calm; 
• Bridges communication gaps; 
• Provides comfort; 
• Reduces boredom; 
• Lowers anxiety and decreases agitation;
• Creates motivation for the client to recover faster;
• Reduces loneliness;
• Increases socialization / encourages communication;
• Helps improve focus;
• Can bring someone back to the present;
• Provides inner contentment that may not be verbally expressed, but can be seen in eating better, sleeping better, and greater cooperation.
• Diminishes emotional pain in seniors.

For physical health, the act of petting, holding, or cuddling with a loving pet:

• Produces an automatic relaxation response;
• Stabilizes blood pressure;
• Reduces the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke;
• Improves cardiovascular health;
• Slows breathing in those who are anxious;
• Releases many “feel-good” hormones, having a similar effect as eating chocolate;
• Diminishes overall physical pain;
• Provides motivation to move more, stretch farther, and exercise longer; and
• Helps maintain and increase motor skills.

Be sure to come back and pet me or one of my therapy pet siblings soon! I also love to to be held and cuddled!



About Bebe: BeBe is a 17-year-old cat that Evan and Jeannie Farr adopted from the Fairfax County animal shelter in 2011. He is a loving lap cat who gets along with all people and all animals. When not in the office, he can be mostly found cuddling in Evan or Jeannie’s lap or snuggling next to them on their couch at home. 

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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