How Pet Therapy Dogs Make Powerful Healing Partners

(VIDEO: The heart-warming pet therapy video at the end of this article is guaranteed to make you smile!)

Dogs truly are man’s best friend: faithful companions, lavishing us (make that slobbering us) with unconditional love. Anyone who owns a pet knows the comfort and happiness they give us daily. It’s no wonder animals play an important role helping people heal and stay positive during challenging times.

Dogs Are Powerful Healing Partners

Therapy dogs bring therapeutic and medical benefits to their “patients.” These amazing dogs promote healing in ways medical professionals and caregivers cannot. For instance, research suggests spending time with animals can lower blood pressure and anxiety (while time with family often raises it).

The unconditional acceptance and pure joy animals bring to “their humans” creates a special bond and feeling that touches the soul. That may explain why getting a visit from a dog while in the hospital makes such a positive impact towards recovery.

How Therapy Dogs Make a Difference

Pet partner teams – therapy dogs and their owners or handlers – can help speed up the recovery process in a number of ways:

  • Physical and occupational therapists use dogs during therapy to encourage patients to practice functional skills like reaching, dressing, walking, balance and more
  • Speech therapists have noticed that people – even those with speech difficulties – speak more, and more fluently, when talking with a visiting dog and trainer
  • A visit by a therapy dog naturally encourages movement and activity: Petting, talking to the dog and handing out treats can perk up your spirits and stimulate you to get up and moving
  • Therapy dogs have a special talent for motivating stroke victims as they relearn how to speak, move affected arms and legs, and walk. For example, as you pet a dog or play fetch by throwing a ball, you’re practicing movements you’ll need to master before going home, like dressing
  • Spending time with a dog makes you want to recover as quickly as you can so you can go home to your own pets. Therapy dogs can even help you make sure you’re ready to care for your pet after being discharged: walking them, preparing their food and playing with them

If you’re ever feeling down about being in the hospital, a therapy dog might be just what you need to raise your spirits. (And not just you, your family, too.)

Watch this heart-warming video to see how Aurora Health Care uses therapy dogs as healing partners.

Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole . . . and healthier.

Meet the Author

Catherine Cauley is a Physical Therapist at Aurora Medical Center in Summit, Wisconsin.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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