The Best Pets for Living in Recovery

Sometimes the road to recovery from substance abuse or alcohol addiction can be lonely and frustrating. Our family and friends may not always be available to be there for us. Without a strong support group, patients may feel less resilient, have poor self-esteem, or may feel disheartened. Having a pet may fill this void. With the best pets to accompany you through your journey, the road to recovery may feel a little easier and less lonesome.

The Benefits of Having Pets as Companions in Recovery

Humans have been domesticating a variety of animals throughout history. From ants, beetles, birds, mice, snakes, cats, dogs, and many more, humans have nurtured special bonds with their pets. They have become a prominent part of our everyday lives as well as part of our family. Many pets serve a variety of functions, from protecting their owners, controlling pests, or being service dogs for those who are in need.

In Florence Nightingale’s book Notes on Nursing: What it is and What it is Not, she stated that a small pet animal is a great companion for the sick. The Dog as a Co-Therapist by Boris Levinson also showcases the therapeutic value of animals. This book and article are some of the early published works showing animal recovery benefits. Even in the past century, the relationships between the best pets and their human counterpart and the possible benefits of that relationship to the human’s physical and emotional well-being in recovery have been observed. The best pets can be a great source of support to an individual’s mental and physical health. They can have a great contribution to the therapeutic process of the patient.

There are numerous benefits of having a pet accompany you through your recovery:

  1. They Provide Unconditional Love: Their love knows no bounds. If you show kindness to them, they will repay you with their acceptance and love. No matter what wrongdoings you may have done in your past, they won’t judge or criticize you. Patients undergoing recovery from substance abuse or alcoholism may feel as if they are not worthy of another chance. Pets can provide social support and are there to make you feel wanted, loved, and needed again. They can provide a great source of happiness with their playful and affectionate nature. These can help trigger the release of oxytocin, which helps patients reduce anxiety-related symptoms by reducing the cortisol hormone associated with stress.

  2. They can keep you Active: Animals, especially dogs, require an active lifestyle. Exercising can help patients keep their focus away from the urge of their cravings or their withdrawal symptoms. Research also shows that exercising helps release endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline which can improve your mood and balance your emotions. Exercising also helps your body feel more calm and relaxed.

  3. They Promote Responsibility: Owning a pet is a great responsibility that an individual must consider before getting one. You may see your pet as part of your world, but they see you as their whole world. Their well-being will depend on you and your choices. Owning a pet can give patients a sense of responsibility and self-esteem and help encourage them to be sober and drug-free. They will see the importance and impact of supporting and caring for another living being while staying sober and clean.

What are the Best Pets for Patients Who are Undergoing Recovery?

Different pets have different kinds of characteristics that make them useful in mental and physical treatments. Patients must keep in mind that choosing the best pets to help them must be taken seriously. Not all pets are the same. They have different needs that must still be provided for their well-being. It is a great responsibility that also rewards you with great benefits.

The most popular pets used for recovery are dogs and cats. Dogs are undoubtedly man’s best friend. They are the most popular among the best pets for recovery. They are loyal and compassionate. Their playful nature and the need for regular exercise promote an active lifestyle for the patients. Cats are the second most frequently used pet for animal treatments and the best pets for recovery. Like dogs, they provide affection; although these pets do not require as much rigorous exercise as dogs, they need physical activity through playtime with you.

Here are those pets plus some of the other best pets that can help an individual on their journey to recovery:

Small pets such as insects, fishes, and reptiles provide fewer interactions because of their limited ability to respond to human stimuli. They still reduce stress levels and keep patients focused, as they are fascinating to watch and observe.

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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