Dogs are natural therapists
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:07AM
Pet Therapy is a unique program that gives patients a sense of comfort during their stay at a hospital. It can help patients with prolonged illness feel better and is a great substitute for those who miss their pets at home.
Pet therapy programs at hospitals work towards managing the pain and anxiety of patients. This can have an added bonus of putting a smile on someone’s face.
A dog has unconditional love and offers genuine affection, so people who are sick or feeling down respond well when they see an animal. These animals lift spirits and encourage communication with a patient and family, providing comfort, lowering anxiety, reducing boredom and also reducing loneliness.
There are certain qualifications that a therapy dog must have to continue its job working with people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes and schools. These dogs can come in all shapes and sizes and must have an easy going temperament. A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, gentle and comfortable when coming into contact with unfamiliar people and an unfamiliar environment. Therapy dogs do have special screening and training to ensure these qualities are enhanced to benefit all recipients.
I have personally seen the affects the dogs have on patients. It is wonderful to have a non-medical option to help somebody’s pain and anxiety.
The benefit of therapeutic dog visitation has been proven beneficial time and time again. There are many sources on the Internet where people can read about the benefits of animals helping people with illness or disability to improve how they feel and function. This data is timeless and why therapeutic pet programs are becoming a reasonable and important part of the “little extras” hospitals or other care agencies can offer people to improve outcomes.
Dawn Kunz is a pain/palliative care clinical nurse specialist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital.