From Therapy Dogs to Emotional Support Parrots

From Therapy Dogs to Emotional Support Parrots

As human beings, we all face various challenges in life – some of which are mental and emotional. According to the World Health Organization, 450 million people around the world suffer from mental or neurological disorders. Mental health is as important as physical health, and it is essential to take care of both to live a happy and healthy life. While medication and therapy are traditional methods to manage mental disorders, research shows that animals can also improve our mental health and emotional wellbeing. Visiting a pet can help reduce stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms.

A 2012 study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management revealed that employees’ stress levels decreased when dogs were around, and productivity improved. The human-animal bond tends to increase social interaction, especially in those who find it challenging to socialize or communicate.

Here are the ten animals that can potentially improve your mental health:

1. Dogs

Dogs are known to be faithful companions of humans. They are known to reduce stress and anxiety levels in people. Playing and spending time with dogs have been associated with reducing stress hormones’ release, such as cortisol and increasing oxytocin levels, which causes us to feel happy and affectionate.

Dogs are used in various forms of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and animal-assisted therapy. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, dogs can assist therapists in reaching goals such as exposing people to different situations to help them overcome their fears.

In psychotherapy, dogs can help in building trust during sessions and provide emotional support. They can also help reduce depression and emotional exhaustion that could arise during therapy.

2. Cats

Cats can also help improve your mental health. Having a cat around can provide comfort and reduce anxiety levels. Watching cats play and purr can be therapeutic and comforting in itself. The soft sounds of a cat’s purr can help calm nerves and provide comfort.

Cats have been used in therapy for those recovering from mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD). A few ways cats can help in therapy include providing comfort and support, teaching empathy, and helping children practice social skills.

3. Fish

Fish are known to reduce anxiety and stress levels in people. They improve mental wellness by providing a peaceful and relaxing environment. Observing fish swim and glide through the water can provide a sense of calm and tranquility. Additionally, aquariums and fish tanks may have an ergonomic effect on people.

4. Birds

Birds can be wonderful companions for people who love birds. Parakeets, parrots, and canaries are examples of birds kept as pets. Birds are known to make people happy, reduce stress levels, and evoke positive emotions. Additionally, birds can learn phrases and songs, and when they interact with their owners, they tend to improve communication and reduce feelings of loneliness.

5. Guinea Pigs

Guinea pig’s bright eyes and furry coats make them adorable pets. They are soft, warm, and cuddly, and they can provide comfort and relaxation for those who spend time petting them. Guinea Pigs can also help people coping with PTSD, depression, and anxiety. They have also been known to assist in reducing agitation in those with dementia.

6. Horses

Horses are majestic animals that are used for therapeutic purposes. “Hippotherapy” involves riding horses as a therapeutic tool for individuals with physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities. Horses’ rhythmic movements can help improve motor skills and balance in patients. In addition, horses have been used in the treatment of PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

7. Rabbits

Rabbits are adorable animals that make excellent pets. They are playful, social, and cuddly, and they can provide comfort and relaxation for those who spend time petting them. As in cats and dogs, the act of petting rabbits can trigger the release of oxytocin, which has therapeutic effects such as reducing stress.

8. Turtles

Turtles are relatively low maintenance creatures that can make great pets. They may also help improve our mental health. Many people enjoy watching turtles and observing their habits. Turtles’ calm and peaceful movements may have a soothing effect on people.

9. Ferrets

Ferrets are playful and friendly animals that can make great pets. Research shows that pets can lower stress and anxiety levels in their owners. Ferrets help reduce stress levels by providing joy, companionship, and entertaining their owners with their playful antics.

10. Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs make adorable pets that are easy to take care of. They may also help lower stress levels by providing joy, companionship, and entertainment for their owners. Watching hedgehogs move and play can be soothing and calm.


People around the world face mental and emotional health challenges. Pet therapy is one possible way to alleviate some of these symptoms. Spending time with pets can help reduce stress and anxiety, decrease depression, improve mood, and overall mental wellbeing.

Research indicates that ten animals – dogs, cats, fish, birds, guinea pigs, horses, rabbits, turtles, ferrets, and hedgehogs – could improve our mental health. While pets are not a replacement for proper mental health treatment, they can provide an excellent supplement and a more natural path to healing.

Animals like therapy dogs and cats even get certified by organizations that train and certify them as such. There are even registries to get your pets certified as emotional support animals, making them a vital part of mental health treatment for people around the world. 

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