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Pet Therapy- What Petting Does for you and Your Pets

High stress and anxiety levels can make it difficult to stay focused and deal with life’s challenges. Pet therapy is based on the relationship between an emotional support animal and their owner. Simple activities that occur within this relationship, such as petting, can be beneficial for both the owner and the pet.

Petting an emotional support dog or other pet can be uniquely therapeutic. It helps those with depression, anxiety, panic attacks and more. Learn more about how petting can help you and your pet feel better today.

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How Petting Benefits a Pet Owner

Pet therapy can occur in a range of locations, including a person’s home, school or hospital. Dogs and cats are the most common pets involved in this therapy. Research began in the late 70s that revealed the advantages of interacting with a pet.

An early study showed a connection between a reduction in blood pressure and petting a dog. This exists in a relationship where a companion bond is present. This study involving 24 subjects demonstrated positive differences in systolic and diastolic blood pressure when an individual pets a dog that they know. High levels of stress often increase blood pressure levels. This activity of petting may be a natural and gentle means to help manage the issue. This  study also provides insight on human and animal bonding and petting. The result does have a positive influence on individuals and their health.

Petting and interacting with a beloved animal can help release oxytocin. This is a hormone that makes individuals feel better. This hormone not only provides immediate benefits but can help individuals over the long-term. Rebecca Johnson, a nurse at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine’s Research Center for Human/Animal Interaction stated:

“Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body’s ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells. So, it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier.”

Children and adults who have suffered mental and physical trauma may find it useful to interact with and pet as an emotional support animal. Petting cats or dogs can release important hormones that can naturally create an environment that supports the healing process.

Why Animals Need to Be Pet

Companion pets are social animals. Petting helps foster important bonds between a human and their animal. Also, many pets seem to enjoy physical contact. In addition, petting and brushing can help a pet get used to human interaction.   Coincidently, making it easier to take them to visit a groomer or be handled by a veterinarian. Petting also provides an opportunity for owners to check for the first signs of an illness. Such illnesses can be skin allergies, rashes, lumps or other skin conditions. Pet an emotional support animal as part of maintaining their health and general well-being.

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The Support You Need with an ESA Letter

Compared to companion pets, emotional support animals have a special opportunity to be available to their owners in a variety of circumstances and locations. However, owners first need to get an Emotional Support Animal Letter for a pet. This will involve getting approval and authorization from a licensed doctor. An ESA letter will help you attain ESA Housing or travel with your pet. Take the free test now to start the process with American Service Pets.

Get Your ESA Today


Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.


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