Harvard Men's Health Watch

Talk to the animals

Animal-assisted therapy can be your best friend when it comes to mental support.

animals
Image: Jevtic /Thinkstock

They say a dog is man's best friend, but when it comes to better health, any type of animal bonding will do.

Research shows that interaction with animals like dogs, cats, and even horses can have both immediate and long-lasting impacts on your mental well-being. Done more formally in a medical context, it's known as animal-assisted therapy (AAT).

"Animals don't have a preconceived notion of people," says Dr. Henry Feldman, of the Division of Hospital Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "They provide unconditional love, which encourages interaction and helps people feel more confident."

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