Scientific studies on the healing power of dogs – Part 1

It has been about year since my father passed away, and my mom confides in me that she would fall apart if it were not for her little dog Snooky. Some how this little dog, keeps my mom going and gives her love when she feels so lost and alone. My mom is not alone, many people world wide are saying they feel less lonely, and feel happier when they have a pet.

I myself have not lost my husband and I still have children who live at home with me, but I too, feel love from my dogs. In the past twenty-years, everyone has been hearing about the healing power of dogs, which has led to scientific research to studying the psychological and physiological benefits of animals.

Hospitals and nursing homes across the nation became interested in this new health benefit to patients, called dog therapy. Not only were dogs being used in this new therapy, but other animals such as cats and rabbits. Administrators began to notice that furry animals visiting nursing homes had a positive impact on the residents that lived there.

There are many organizations such as Pet Partners, and Angel on a Leash that visit nursing homes and hospitals, where patients are allowed to pet dogs or other animals. The little pooches began to be referred to stress reducers.

Currently there are about sixty-four hundred Pet Partner teams nationally. Pets within Pet Partner are introduced to equipment and other objects that they may encounter at nursing homes or hospitals before the visit, so the animals are familiar and will react properly during their visits.

Research done by the American Heart Association showed that heart and lung function improved in patients just by petting and having the animals around. Exactly how did it improve these patients just by having the animals around? Patients’ blood pressure was lowered, they released less toxic hormones, and it helped to decrease anxiety by about twenty-four percent in just a twelve minute visit.

Not only are patients in hospitals, people in nursing homes and those with disabilities being benefited by our canine friends, but all of us. I am glad we now have scientific data to back up what some of us already knew that our four legged friends can not only offer friendship, companionship, unconditional love, but they can also stimulate, motivate and can reduce stress too.

Works Cited:

Manning, Anita “Pets Have Learned to sit, stay-and heal” USA Today ealth/2003-09-02-pet-benefits_ x.htm (accessed 8/16/07)

Houston, Mark, MD “The Physiological and Psychological Effect of Animal Therapy: Examining the Healing Power of Animas” Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association Jana Vol. 9, No. 1 2006 (accessed 8/16/07)

Pet Therapy in Hospital “Angel on a Leash to Benefit Young Patients” Health News 2005 (accessed 8/16/07)

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