In a word – YES! Pets also experience fear, anxiety, and can display dysfunctional behavior, too, as many of us know. So, it stands to reason that, knowing how to help human beings with such issues, we could also apply this to our much-loved pets. Since mental health disorders (not to mention crime) in general with humans went up dramatically during the last couple of years (i.e., “pandemic” timespan), it would make sense that our pets, who also often take cues from us, would likewise experience increased mental health issues.
Did you know that rescue pets develop antisocial behaviors after being abused physically and psychologically? Elephants in the wild have mourning rituals – yes, they grieve and then take care of business. It’s also been reported that about 10% of military dogs who go to combat zones develop signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Did somebody say that pets are human beings too?! I certainly believe that – LOL!
There are an abundant number of veterinarians in this country to help out. But many of us, utilizing holistic health care ourselves, would like to find out if they can help their beloved pets in that way, too. Yes, you can! There are a growing number of holistically oriented veterinarians available to help your pets, perhaps without the use of medications with side effects.
There is even a large association – the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association – available for professionals and lay people searching for a holistic vet. They also advocate for integrative medicine – taking the best of the conventional and the holistic health worlds. And they have a professional, peer-reviewed scientific journal, utilizing integrative approaches.
Most of us have likely heard that pets can be so very healing for humans, too. (It stands to reason that we would give such pets our very best in their health and wellness, too.) Therapy pets visit hospitals and nursing homes, and often people with certain disabilities have their very own therapy pet. Pets are so often unconditionally loving, and thus they can be a source of great comfort and support to humans. And they deserve that from us, as well.
Pets can also be good for your kids. Pets offer unconditional love, and if the kids take care of them, it also teaches them to be responsible. However, having pets also helps out with the kids’ developing emotions, cognition, social development, and of course their physical growth.
Some kids actually read to their pets, petting them as they read, and some even ask their pets questions. Pets are also in schools, assisting developmentally challenged children in learning.
Since I’m a drug counselor and prevention specialist, I always have an eye and an ear to how such topics can benefit those recovering from addiction or even in preventing addiction in the first place.
One of the best ways our pets can help those in recovery has to do with loneliness – early in recovery, people often experience a tremendous sense of loneliness. This can be a strong trigger in these individuals relapsing. Most early recovering people are letting go of their “using friends” and don’t have many - if any at all - healthy ones. Loneliness is stressful and can cause clinical depression. Having a loving, unconditionally caring pet with you can help ease that sense of isolation, loneliness, and feeling depressed.
Having pets can facilitate social contact – you can always talk about your little companions, the good, the bad, and the ugly! Sometimes the things they do is hilarious. You can bond with others who have made similar experiences!
Pets help you exercise a bit more. Dogs need to be walked! I hate to say this, but sometimes you can find yourself chasing around your pets for various and sundry reasons. This is good … movement is an essential element of recovery. Pets have been scientifically shown to reduce stress and they can help you stay on schedule.
Please consider your pets’ health and wellness for your pets, as well as for you.
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
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