Got a cold? Grab a cat!

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cafdf healingPills and potions are outdated. Moscow doctors are now starting to prescribe... animals to treat a whole range of health problems.

If you are worried about high blood pressure, Flipper could have the answer. Swimming with dolphins is becoming increasingly popular among Russians as a means of getting rid of the stress and strife of daily life – as well as to comfort aches and pains.

"When I got in this morning I had terrible back pain, but 20 minutes of this experience was enough to get rid of it completely!" one dolphin patient told RT.

Such animal remedies can come in all shapes and sizes. Fish are now seen as a means to heal the damage caused by the skin disease psoriasis. Pelya the pigeon, for example, helped her owner recover from a traumatic robbery, and their relationship has been in full flight ever since.

"When I'm depressed or upset, she comes to me and starts playing with my hair, rubbing against me, and making a sound like the purring of a cat. She sometimes even sings something like a scale of notes. She's very sensitive to my mood," Pelya's owner told RT.

Animals have long been known to have a beneficial effect on humans, but it is only relatively recently that nature has been employed to help treat specific illnesses – sometimes proving more useful than modern-day drugs.

Taking after trends in Europe and the US, Moscow has seen a significant increase in the use of everyday pets to help deal with childhood disorders.

Working with the city's zoo, Detstvo (literally, childhood) Hospital has run a program since 1999 for treating children suffering with everything from autism to impaired vision.

"Animals can make children emotional, and often kids that find it difficult to make any movement will emotionally try to extend their hand," Natalya Polonskaya, from the Detstvo rehabilitation center, told RT. "This, in turn, means the spasticity of muscles is sometimes reduced."

Despite its beneficial qualities, programs like this a rare in Russia.

"Children come from all regions to spend 21 days here," said Tatyana Kulikovksya, from the Detstvo rehabilitation center. "I think we need one session per week to yield good results."

Doctors involved in the effort stress that such classes should be more common. Until then, parents will have to keep traveling great distances in order for their children to get animal interaction that can aid their treatment.

Learn More at Russia Today

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