Therapy Birds And Service Pigs? Some New Approaches To Animal-Assisted Therapy

Posted on: 20 September 2016

If you thought that only dogs were suited to providing service and therapeutic benefit to humans, think again. Researchers are discovering many ways that normally undomesticated animals can fulfill a rising need among consumers with physical, mental, and emotional impairments.

Ferrets. Ferrets offer consumers a unique alternative to owning dogs to help predict seizure activity. Ferrets are not rodents, but rather are a member of the weasel family and weigh between one and five-pounds. These little animals have proven to be adept at predicting when a seizure will occur, often squeezing their handler before-hand.

Snakes. A therapy snake? It is true; a therapy animal is generally defined as one that provides soothing and comfort to the owner or handler. Some consumers report that boa constrictors not only provide this therapeutic relief, but also can be used in the role of a service snake that can predict when their human will have a seizure.

Birds. Birds can provide comfort and inspire socialization among groups of people, so it is not uncommon to see an aviary at a medical facility or veterans' home. Some report that domesticated birds, like the parrot, can help reduce the symptoms of mental illness, including bipolar disorder and psychosis.

Mini-horses. Horses have long been used as therapy animals for a variety of conditions and interventions. Mini-horses are found to be a useful alternative to a service dog for consumers with visual impairments. These cute horses are also used in therapy and socialization at group homes, nursing facilities, and VA hospitals.

Pigs. Many experts believe that pigs are as intelligent and as responsive to training as dogs, so it is no surprise that pot-bellied pigs are being trained as service animals. Service pigs are helping consumers with visual or physical impairments get around easier and achieve basic daily living tasks

Dolphins.  Dolphins are being used with children that have disabilities, inspiring motivation to swim, which can improve mobility and physical conditioning.

Monkeys. Capuchin monkeys are small, agile, and swift which can make them invaluable to consumers that have physical impairments or limitations. These little guys can do everything from fetch medication to answer the door. Plus they provide companionship for the humans that they assist.

More research is being done to determine the capacity of a wide range of animals in therapeutic settings. This may help improve quality of life for consumers that otherwise may experience feelings of isolation and hopelessness. Therapy animals fulfill an important role just as service animals do, and can provide a sense of purpose and caring that is beneficial for all populations. If you are interested in one of these pets to assist you, talk to veterinarians like those at the Downing Center For Animal Pain Management to learn how to properly care for it.


Keeping Your Pets Healthy

After I started staying home full time instead of working, I realized that my pets weren't as healthy as I thought they were. They basically laid around the house all day, and I started growing increasingly concerned about their well-being. I wanted to know more about their health, so I visited a veterinarian in my area. He gave me a few really good tips on reducing their caloric intake and encouraging exercise. Now, I can say that my dogs are truly healthy and energetic. This blog is all about keeping your pets healthy so that you can continue to enjoy their company.