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Another boost from interacting with pets: They make you smile! They also make people you encounter while your pet is with you smile, which is therapeutic for the owner.
Simon "employs" her Maltipoo (Maltese + Poddle) Riley at her practice to pet and play with clients, and says that just the same way Riley calms people during sessions, "any animal can be a source of emotional support."
Kaylee Simon, LMSW, has had her dog Riley trained as a therapy dog.
Dogs, of course, are more reliably responsive to an owner's emotions. "They can also read people better than cats," Simon says. "But cats are also comforting to pet and cuddle as long as they're willing to have that."
Simon emphasizes that owning a pet is not the only way to reap the powers of pet therapy. She recommends cat cafes and groups that allow you to help socialize rescue animals.