Did you know that science has uncovered a unique way to ease the pressures of military family life? Amidst constant change, deployments, and school adjustments, a fascinating solution has surfaced: Pets. These lovable creatures aren’t just companions, they’re little heroes, stimulating positive growth in kids and aiding service members’ re-entry into family life after deployment.
Helps to Manage Trauma
If your loved one engaged in active combat during their deployment, it’s likely that they may be dealing with trauma from that experience. In fact, a study of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans shows that about 30% have developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Having PTSD can result in irritability, anger, and panic attacks. It may also result in having bad dreams or nightmares every night since one of the major symptoms of PTSD is having intrusive reminders of the traumatic experience. Therapy can help to be in a healthier state of mind, but having a pet can also be beneficial if you or your loved one is dealing with trauma.
In a research of those who have experienced trauma including those with PTSD, it was found that animal-assisted therapy can reduce PTSD symptoms. There is increased oxytocin in both pets and humans during interactions, and oxytocin can help to have better sleep and regulate emotional responses. The therapies mainly included dogs, but it was found that horses and other farm animals are just as effective to quell PTSD symptoms. Just spending some quiet time with a pet while gently stroking their fur, or even talking or reading to them can help to ease PTSD symptoms and make you feel calm and less anxious.
Get More Exercise
Lack of exercise not only increases your risk of mental health disorders, but it can also increase the likelihood of developing health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. Having a pet ensures that military families get lots of exercise, and this is especially true if the pet happens to be a dog or a horse. Canine companions need to be walked at least once every day, while horses need 20 minutes of movement daily to stay healthy. Family members can take turns walking the dog or riding their pet horse to get equal bonding time with their pet and get moving. Not only will this help to get you fit, but it will also ease stress, which affects both the young and old.
Improves Social Skills
Most civilians may think that being a military kid is lots of fun because they get to live in new places and meet lots of new people. However, they’re often highly stressed since being frequently mobile means having to constantly adjust to new academic curriculum. Military children may also struggle to develop lasting friendships and have a hard time finding a sense of belonging in new environments. After frequent relocations, separation from parents due to deployment, and a lack of friends, children may either start to become withdrawn and less sociable, or they become highly rambunctious and rebellious. Thankfully, pet therapy can help to make military children feel less lonely, and it may even enable them to become more sociable.
A survey shows that out of 2,000 dog owners surveyed, almost half of the participants made friends while walking their pets. Having a dog can make people seem open to friendships and connections, and it may even give people a boost of confidence so they can talk to others. So, encourage your child to walk your pet dog at the park. It’s likely that other kids may want to initiate conversations with them due to the presence of their furry pal. These conversations can lead to solid friendships, which can help military kids to thrive.
Pets bring joy to people, and they can help military families in so many ways. Consider getting a pet to increase your family’s happiness, boost overall health, and have more interactions with others, and make sure to do your research so you can get the best type of pet that’s right for you and your loved ones.