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The benefits of animal companionship

Happy child with down syndrome lying on the floor with Labrador retriever

Having an animal as a companion can be a source of enormous happiness in a person’s life. However, as we covered in an earlier blog post, the benefits do not end there. Indeed, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests having regular interactions with an animal can not only bring happiness, but also improve your physical and emotional wellbeing.

They can help in relaxation and improving focus

As reported by Animal Smart, there are studies that show interactions with animals can lead to a reduction of cortisol (a hormone that indicates stress) in the bloodstream, and also lead to lower blood pressure.  Dogs are especially proven in this area, with therapy dogs brought into hospitals, nursing homes, and even onto university campuses, to help reduce people’s stress and anxiety.

Indeed, as We Are Teachers reports there are studies that suggest that dogs may also be able to help in the classroom. It was found that dogs can assist children living with ADHD improve their focus levels while in class. For children living with ASD, The Smithsonian reported that, after 10 minutes of supervised playtime with guinea pigs in the classroom, their anxiety levels were reduced.

They help people stay healthy and engaged in their communities

The RSPCA have found that animal companionship can have positive effects on physical wellbeing. Having an animal in your life may lead to lower cholesterol levels, reduce the chance of a stroke, and even have a positive impact on the chance of surviving a heart attack. Similarly, having a pet dog can help you stay healthy through the need to the animal for regular exercise. 

Taking your pet out into your neighbourhood for exercise can also be a great opportunity to stay involved in your community, and to meet new people.

Opportunities to interact with animals

For those who are not in the position or do not wish to have an animal as a pet, there are numerous organisations that facilitate interaction with animals.

For instance, the Sydney Dogs and Cats Home runs a number of community programs, including a Youth Mental Health School Program where groups of students who have mental health conditions are able to meet and interact with cats, dogs, rabbits and birder in the shelter. The Yarramalong Clydesdale Farm runs Equine-Assisted Therapy sessions in order to promote physical and emotional growth in people with a range of conditions.

Additionally, Australian Traveller has created a list of the best cat cafes in Australia, where you can interact with rescue cats, and even at some cafes do yoga with them

If you’re interested in finding a support worker to help you access animal companionship in your community click here to search the profiles of independent support workers in your area.

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