Think about a world without animals. Since most animals love people without conditions, it seems obvious that a world devoid of animals would be less sympathetic and kind. Animals can also be trained to serve as therapy animals to offer comfort and affection to people who live in varied situations.
By offering comfort, love, and affection, therapy animals can benefit people in hospitals, nursing homes, retirement communities, hospice facilities, schools, and even disaster situations. Although they are not the same as emotional support animals or service dogs (we’ll discuss the differences later), therapy animals nonetheless offer a valuable service.
Therapeutic visitation animals, facility therapy animals, and animal-assisted therapy animals are the three different categories of therapy animals. However, therapy is not limited to canines. Learn more about the five different kinds of therapy animals in the following paragraphs.
The 5 Different Types of Therapy Pets
1. Therapy Dogs
Without a doubt, therapy dogs are the most popular kind of therapy animal. Together with their handlers, therapy dogs volunteer to visit specific facilities to comfort and adore the residents. Unlike service dogs, who are explicitly trained to perform certain duties for impaired people, therapy dogs are not. Instead, therapy dogs are taught to feel at ease in a variety of social situations.
In some cases, therapy dogs need to be registered and recognized by a renowned national organization before they can attend any kind of facility as a therapy dog unless the facility itself grants prior consent. The certification process includes training, testing for temperament, and more. If a dog passes the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test, it can also receive certification as a therapy dog.
2. Therapy Cats
When you think of a therapy animal, cats may not immediately come to mind, but they are just as capable of delivering comfort, love, and devotion in nursing homes, retirement communities, and other settings like these as dogs. Cats are excellent candidates for use as therapy animals to reduce stress and anxiety because they are able to feel negative emotions.
Similar to dogs, not all cats can be trained to be therapy animals and those that can must complete a certification process before being recognized as such. Any certification program requires a patient, kind, and sociable cat before enrollment. Some cats can be reclusive and enjoy their own company more than others; cats with these temperaments are not suitable to be licensed and approved as therapy animals.
3. Therapy Horses
Although horses don’t play around in nursing homes or retirement communities as dogs do, they can help people feel less stressed. People who are struggling with eating disorders, addiction, ADHD, behavioral issues, grieving, anxiety, or sadness may benefit from equine-assisted therapy.
Professionals lead clients through activities with horses that help improve mental health in equine-assisted therapy programs. Riding horses may occasionally be used in conjunction with physical or occupational therapy. Building trust, confidence, social skills, communication, and learning limits are just a few of the advantages of equine therapy. A wide range of disabilities and illnesses, including Down syndrome, brain injuries, abuse problems, Autism, dementia, and more, can benefit from the use of therapy horses.
4. Therapy Rabbits
Move aside, The Mr. Therapy Rabbit is in town, Peter Cottontail. Although many people might not think of rabbits as therapy animals, they can be. Training programs are not always required for therapy bunnies. However, in order to be formally recognized as a therapy animal, they must meet certain requirements, such as having clean fur, clipped nails, a nice disposition, being at ease in any surroundings, being well-cared for, being in good general health, being litter-trained, and being able to walk on a leash.
Rabbits must be registered before they can enter some establishments as therapy animals. Rabbits, on the other hand, can be perfect for this because they are small, don’t meow or bark, require little upkeep, and can be trained.
5. Therapy Birds
When it comes to therapy birds, parrots are great therapy pets because they are in tune with their surroundings and kind toward people. Birds can be therapy animals with just a note from a mental health practitioner; they don’t need to be certified or registered. In addition to relieving anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), birds can also aid with mental and emotional stress. Your decision to adopt a bird as a therapy animal can be assisted by a mental health expert.
What Distinguishes Therapy Dogs from Service Dogs?
Even while it could seem like they are the same thing, they are actually very distinct. For a disabled person, a service dog is trained to carry out certain activities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that service animals can accompany their owner inside any establishment that is open to the public, regardless of whether dogs are permitted or not. Service dogs and their owners are both permitted to travel in the cabin together. Service dogs are not required to be certified and registered in the United States, but they must pass a public access test in order to be admitted to public areas.
However, as they are not task-trained, therapy dogs are not permitted to fly in the cabin with their owners. In nursing homes, retirement communities, hospitals, etc., therapy dogs are exclusively employed to calm and show affection to persons struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, and other related conditions. In addition, they are used in places like schools and disaster zones.
Explanation of the Three Types of Therapy Animals
Three different categories of therapy animals were discussed at the outset of this essay. Let’s dissect them.
Therapeutic Visitation Animals: Pets that have been specially taught to visit hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and other facilities in order to soothe people who are away from home due to a medical or mental disease are known as therapeutic visitation animals. These animals are frequently used around the nation for this purpose and bring great joy to the residents of these facilities.
Animal-Assisted Therapy Animals: In rehabilitation settings, occupational and physical therapists work with therapy animals to help patients reach their recovery objectives.
Animals used as therapy in facilities: These animals may reside in nursing homes or other facilities for assisted living and are typically looked after by the facility. Residents who have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other mental diseases benefit from the assistance of these animals.
Dogs, cats, horses, birds, and even bunnies can serve as therapy pets. For individuals in nursing homes, retirement communities, and even hospice institutions, therapy animals are helpful in bringing them peace, love, and affection.