There is great value of using animals in the healing process. In a variety
of healthcare facilities, visits from therapy dogs have demonstrated an
increase in the calmness, happiness and overall emotional well-being of
people who have come in contact with them. Studies have shown a decrease
in both the stress level and blood pressure of patients during visits
by therapy dogs.
A therapy dog's primary function is to brighten someone's day and provide emotional support. The effectiveness of these dogs in aiding patient recovery is based on the human/animal bond – the affection that dogs have for people and that people have for dogs. These special animals play a unique role in the patient recovery process and shouldn't be confused with service dogs, who perform more specialized, less therapeutic, day-to-day roles for their owners.
A therapy dog’s visit might improve emotional health by showing the patient she’s both loved and lovable. The patient may smile, cry, hug and pet the dog, or laugh while the dog performs tricks. Therapy dogs can provide physical assistance, too. For instance, a visiting therapy dog might encourage a stroke victim to speak; the impulse to pet one of these caring animals might provide sufficient motivation for a patient to move an arm.
Currently, MHP therapy dogs visit in-patients two times weekly.
- For more information on MHP Major Hospital’s Pet Therapy dog program, contact program coordinator, Julie Pike.