Pets and Rehabilitation

Pet therapy for substance use disorder is not a well-known treatment for those who suffer from addiction and substance use. Still, the method proves to be a successful treatment compared to others. Of course, that is depending on the patients. The specificity of the treatment is designed to accommodate each individuals’ needs. For some patients, this treatment plan could look something like saddling up and riding a horse every day, waking up to puppy kisses in the morning, stroking the ears and back of a cat, or to solely learn how to care for a pet on their own. Owning a pet or partaking in pet therapy does wonders for mental health, including addiction or substance use disorder. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction or a substance use disorder, do not hesitate to call 912-214-3867.  


Pet therapy for substance use disorder is something not many people are familiar with or have heard of frequently. When it comes to treatment plans and recovery programs for addiction and substance use, there are numerous options to choose from: detoxification, long-term residential, outpatient, medically managed withdrawal, peer support, and self-help. However, one of the most exceptional forms of receiving addiction treatment is pet therapy for substance use disorder. 

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Principles of Pets

Everyone knows or has heard of the comfort that comes with owning and caring for a pet. Specifically, the indescribable sense of companionship and loyalty that comes with having a furry pal who follows you—to the kitchen, living room, outside, and even in the bathroom—and back. They stick to your ankles like glue to paper. They make you feel loved and needed, especially when you are on your own or facing hardship. 

Yes. Pets wander off sometimes. They do not always listen. Occasionally they get into trouble by digging up the newly planted grass in the backyard or making a mess of the kitchen trash. Needless to say, those who have ever owned a pet know that they are a great deal of responsibility. Despite the added responsibility that comes with having a pet, they need to be cared for and loved, just like any other creature or person.  

Additionally, being accompanied by a dog, stroking a cat, or galloping through an open field with a horse, can do wonders for healing both the patient’s body and mind. Sometimes it is not about medicine but about the companions you have and keep.    

How Pets Help Heal

Pets can play a vital role in our lives emotionally. Occasionally, people forget the numerous forms and ways that having a pet can heal their owner. Whether it is physically or mentally. For example, having a dog around gives the owner opportunities to stay in shape, or to incorporate daily exercise into their routine. Activities could include walking the dog around a park, going for a run with it around the block, throwing a frisbee, or playing fetch. Whether engaging in physical activity is prescribed by the owner’s doctor to better their health or not, exercise is beneficial all-around for the body, soul, and for man’s best friend. 

In this day and age, physical healing is not always the type of therapy everybody needs. Mental health is a big challenge everyone faces or has challenges with at some point in their life whether it is chronic or not. By offering their companionship, pets can help reduce their owners’ levels of loneliness, boost their confidence, and help them manage their anger. That is only a few of the mental health benefits of pet therapy. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,other health benefits to having a pet include decreased blood pressure, a decrease in cholesterol levels, a decrease in triglyceride levels, and an increase in opportunities for socialization. 

If you are looking for more informationa about including pets in your therapy process, then call us today. Our specialists will help get you on the right treatment path for you.


Pet Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Pet therapy or animal-assisted therapy (AAT), is an extremely effective method that can treat various health disorders, including addiction and substance use.  

How It Works 

Animal-assisted therapy is an approach to help treat mental health patients. This includes recovering addicts and those who suffer from a substance use disorder. The approach tailors to fit the specific needs of their patients. For example, a patient who is part of a long-term residential treatment program may be able to spend a specific amount of time with a therapy animal (dog, cat, or horse). By interacting with the animal, the patient may begin to experience a variety of results. These results can include a boost in their self-esteem, encouragement to complete their treatment, and feeling worthy of being happy again. 

Purpose of Pet Therapy in Rehab: 

The primary purpose of pet therapy in addiction treatment is to provide the patient with comfort and love. It will help them feel encouraged and supported by allowing them to spend time with one or more therapy pets. This treatment method also teaches patients responsibility because pets are living and breathing beings that need to be taken care of. AAT assists in building the patients’ confidence and self-esteem and helps them feel encouraged to see their recovery through to the end. Lastly, pet therapy provides a healthy emotional outlet for the patient. 

As stated before, when it comes to pets and being in the company of a furry friend there is an almost immediate sense of overwhelming solace, joy, and love. This can happen whether a therapy dog is giving you kisses, a horse is galloping so that you may enjoy the fresh air more, or a cat is making circles around your feet, purring against your legs as it pleads for more of your attention. Animals help in so many ways. 

Benefits of Pet Therapy

Interacting with pets has consistently proven to be beneficial to the emotional state of humans. However, there are other benefits of pet therapy for substance use disorder and addiction treatment. Besides the emotional stability, getting daily exercise, and having a sense of support and encouragement, animals used in pet therapy offer a purpose and safety to the patients. This sensation is frequently felt and experienced in substance use disorder patients, specifically those who fall victim to their mental health such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety.   

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, multiple studies have been conducted on animal-assisted therapy and people with mental health disorders, including substance use. What all of the studies concluded from their results is an immense increase in positive behavior and emotional responses. For example, some results of the studies include: 

  • Improvement of social attention, behavior, interpersonal interaction, and mood 
  • Reduction of stress-related parameters such as cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure 
  • Reduction of self-reported fear and anxiety
  • Improvement of mental and physical health, especially cardiovascular health. 
  • Improvement of immune system functioning 
  • Improved pain management 
  • Increased trustworthiness of and trust toward other persons 
  • Reduced aggression 
  • Enhanced empathy  
  • Improved learning

In short, call us today to learn more about why pet thearpy may be th ebeest option for you. Our experts can help you get on trck to a happier and healthier life.

Statistics and Facts


In New York, a 12-week study had taken place. The study included 56 substance abusers and three therapy dogs. It was organized by Therapy Dogs InternationalThe goal of the study was to implement an exercise that would be both pleasant and nourishing for the clients. According to the results of the experiment, 64% of the clients appeared to accomplish the chief goal, while 56% of the clients became more open about their past and the reason behind their substance abuse habits to therapists when therapy dogs were present. 


Equine therapy is a great form of treatment when working with a patient who suffers from a substance use disorder. According to Andrea Foz, editor for Gov1, working with horses gives the patient greater insight into how to make personal motivation changes by learning skills essential to recovery. For example, being present and honest, managing emotions, and being assertive in setting limits.  

While employing pet therapy, specifically a horse, with a substance use disorder patient, the primary objective is to teach the patient patience, respect, and trust. “Trust is required in building a relationship with a horse. Practitioners find that those with substance abuse disorder that is withdrawn and predisposed to mistrusting others — due to weak peer relationships and betrayals — can be reached through equine therapy,” (Fox, Gov1). 

Deduction and Opinion

Pet therapy for substance use disorder is not unheard of but it is also not utilized enough. Pet therapy can help patients in a multitude of ways. 

Animals play a significant role in our emotional lives. They are there for us when we least expect them to be. Pets are there for us no matter what, whenever we need them. They are waiting to show their love for us when we walk through the front door after a long and difficult day. They are always the first to greet us with a kiss. However, we forget they are there because we often look towards the more obvious figures to comfort, love, and support: parents, peers, neighbors, and coworkers. Unfortunately, the figures we look for support sometimes disappoint us and are not always there when we need them. However, dogs, cats, and horses are.

If you take the time to show them love and appreciation then there is no telling where their company may lead you. Who knows? They may even be the ones that help you get past this point in your life. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction call us today. We can get you connected with a treatment center that will provide therapy that is tailored for you or the best therapy pets. 

To summarize, if you or a loved one is suffering from a substance use disorder, please, do not hesitate to call us. Do not lose hope! Seek out help. Who knows, maybe a dog, cat, or horse will be just the thing you need during this time. Again, do not wait. Please call. We are here for you.  


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