Want Your Pets to Feel Better? Placebo Effect Might Work, Experts Say
If your pet gets ill or simply does not feel well, you would most likely go to a veterinarian for some pills or anything to help them get better. We believe that they can provide the right medicine, but recently, experts claimed that animals can get well too without the real drug and just placebos.
Culling several studies in the past, very few accounts have discussed the effect of placebo on animals. It works well for humans due to our psychological capabilities, but it was contested that animals can also experience the placebo effect.
For humans, placebo effect happens when a patient who was made to believe that he or she is taking a certain type of medicine becomes well after the "medication." Since we eventually put our faith to doctors and to the medicines that they provide, our body works as if it heals itself even if the drug given is not a drug at all.
Since animals have no tendency to have this type of expectations and understanding, fuzzy statements on the placebo effect for animals are greatly outnumbered. But Edzard Ernst, a professor emeritus in complementary medicine at the University of Exeter in the UK, placed his statement into a simple sentence: "Placebos work in animals.”
“In principle, they're the same, but I think there is a different emphasis. Animals don't always have a conscious expectation or they rarely have a conscious expectation of things happening. Humans do have that, for instance, when they go to the doctor or the dentist," Professor Ernst told BBC.
Meanwhile, it was also raised that probably, the placebo effect is not affecting the animals but the pet owners themselves. Karen Muñana, a veterinary neurologist, gave light to this possibility. "When we're dealing with animals, pets that are owned by people and cared for by people, I think the owner's perceptions can play into things. But I do think there is also the potential for a physiological basis for the placebo effect in the animal itself."
Martha Henriques of BBC Earth also mentioned that owners may be playing a crucial role in the treatment of their pets. "The owner who anxiously monitors their pet throughout its time in the trial might in fact be helping the pet get better by paying more attention to its symptoms and needs and responding accordingly," Henriques said in her report.