Health Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapies and Activities

Health Benefits

Animal Assisted Therapies
Onotherapy – Animal Assisted Activity

Pet owners know that relationships with animals have many health, well being and social benefits. Benefits can be intuitively understood watching people bonding with, stroking and caring for a pet. Activities with the animals are generally carried out in nature, rather than in a clinical environment.

Whether it s a cat, a dog, a rabbit, a horse, a donkey… Stroking and grooming calm natured animals provides:

  • a sense of peace to anxious people,
  • lower blood pressure,
  • increase self-esteem, which improves their self-care,
  • participants feel more active and energetic.

It also reduces the feelings of

  • anger,
  • confusion,
  • depression,
  • tension,
  • fatigue.

Animal Assisted Therapies and Activities with horse (Hippotherapy) and donkeys (Onotherapy) influence a patient’s confidence and feeling of pleasure by touching, stroking, grooming and giving verbal commands to the animal. The bonding relationship is characterized by warmth, empathy, trust, acceptance and elaboration improves communication skills and feeling of trust.

Studies show that horse and donkey therapies:

  • Help patients to become more aware of the surrounding environment, induced by the consistent reaction of the animal to patient’s actions.
  • The animals are gently proactive in stimulating people’s attention. These interactions allows the patient to engage his mind and to lengthen their attention span and focus.
  • Horses and donkeys provide positive acceptance and bonding with the individual, which significantly increase their confidence and self-esteem,
  • Higher self-esteem and confidence also leads to enhanced level of participation and enjoyment of the activity.
  • Higher participation and enjoyment builds a stronger bond between patient and animal.
  • Significant and long lasting effects on the individual’s lifestyle (communication, emotional control, self-care, self-esteem, sociability, etc..) are visible within the first few months of therapy.

Donkeys are particularly well natured, smaller and less intimidating than horses, and more obviously enjoy the warmth and affection so the animal assisted therapy goes both ways.