Amongst the myriad of therapeutic interventions, there is a furry, four-legged ambassador of joy making its mark in care homes across the globe – the PAT (Pets As Therapy) dog. Their visits bring with them a host of benefits, enhancing well-being, and creating a positive atmosphere within the home.
One of the most immediate and tangible benefits of PAT dog visits is the companionship they provide. PAT dogs, with their friendly demeanour and unconditional love, offer a source of companionship that goes beyond human interaction. Did you know that the act of petting a dog can release oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and affection?
Research has concluded that the presence of PAT dogs can be linked to stress reduction and relaxation. The tactile nature of interacting with a dog – whether through petting, stroking, or simply enjoying their presence – can trigger a relaxation response. This can lead to lower blood pressure, reduced heart rate, and decreased levels of stress hormones, which contributes to an overall sense of calmness and well-being.
It is also said that engaging with a PAT dog can provide cognitive stimulation for our residents, particularly those living with conditions such as dementia. The sensory experiences associated with interacting with a dog – the feel of their fur, the sound of their gentle breathing, and the sight of their wagging tail – can stimulate various cognitive functions. Additionally, engaging in conversations about the dog's habits, breed, or history can help to exercise memory and cognitive abilities.
The unconditional love and non-judgmental nature of dogs has a remarkable impact on emotional well-being. PAT dogs are known to bring joy, laughter, and a sense of purpose; anyone who has ever owned a dog will know the joy that they bring. The emotional bond formed between our residents and the PAT dog can provide comfort, they prompt memories and spark conversations about the animals that have touched our lives over the years.
The transformative power of the human-animal bond cannot be understated. Beyond the wagging tails and soft fur lies a therapeutic force that enhances the lives of both our residents and our team in numerous ways. PAT dogs play a crucial role in promoting holistic well-being, and as more and more care homes begin to recognise the benefits of these visits, the pawprints of these furry therapists are leaving their mark on all of us.