Therapy Dogs Contribute In Human Physical And Mental Health
Therapy dogs can positively impact human physical and mental health. Therapy dogs, also known as comfort dogs, provide emotional support to individuals who may benefit from their calming presence, such as patients in hospitals, individuals with mental health conditions, and children with special needs.
Studies have shown that interaction with therapy dogs can lower stress and anxiety levels, reduce symptoms of depression, and improve physical symptoms such as lower blood pressure.
However, keep in mind that therapy dogs are not a substitute for professional medical treatment, and people should always consult with a healthcare provider for any medical concerns.
How Therapy Dogs are Helpful?
Reducing stress and anxiety: Interacting with therapy dogs has been shown to lower cortisol levels (a hormone associated with stress) and increase oxytocin levels (a hormone associated with feelings of happiness and calmness).
Improving mood: Therapy dogs can provide comfort and emotional support, helping to reduce feelings of depression and loneliness.
Alleviating physical symptoms: Studies have shown that interaction with therapy dogs can lower blood pressure, relieve pain, and improve cardiovascular health.
Enhancing social skills and communication: Therapy dogs can provide a non-threatening and supportive environment for individuals with social anxiety or communication difficulties, helping to improve their social skills and confidence.
Encouraging physical activity: Therapy dogs can motivate individuals to engage in physical activity, such as taking walks or playing games.
It’s important to note that therapy dogs should be properly trained and certified, and their presence should be coordinated with healthcare providers to ensure the safety and well-being of both the patient and the therapy dog.
Study and Proof
An example of how therapy dogs contribute to human physical and mental health is in a hospital setting. A therapy dog might visit patients who are recovering from surgery or dealing with a chronic illness. The presence of the therapy dog can help reduce stress and anxiety levels in these patients, improve their mood, and provide comfort and emotional support. This, in turn, can lead to physical benefits such as lower blood pressure, reduced pain levels, and improved cardiovascular health.
For example, a study conducted at a children’s hospital found that when therapy dogs were brought in to visit children undergoing cancer treatment, the children reported lower levels of anxiety, less pain, and improved mood compared to when they did not interact with the therapy dogs.
These benefits demonstrate how therapy dogs can make a significant positive impact on physical and mental health, especially in challenging and stressful situations such as hospital stays.
How to get Therapy Dog?
Here are a few tips on selecting the therapy dog for you:
- Determine if a therapy dog is right for you and your lifestyle.
- Choose a breed that is well-suited for therapy work and has a temperament that fits your needs.
- Obtain a dog that is healthy and has a calm demeanor.
- Get the dog trained and certified as a therapy dog.
- This usually involves completing a training program and passing a test.
- Find therapy organizations in your area that use therapy dogs and express your interest in volunteering.
Will Therapy Dog be Worth It?
Whether or not getting a therapy dog is worth it depends on several factors, including your personal situation and the role you hope the dog will play in your life. Here are a few benefits of therapy dogs:
Emotional support: Therapy dogs can provide emotional comfort and support to those who are struggling with mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD.
Physical health benefits: Spending time with a therapy dog has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress levels, and boost overall mood.
Improved social skills: Therapy dogs can help children and adults with social anxiety develop more comfortable and confident social skills.
Increased activity level: Owning a therapy dog can encourage you to be more active and physically engaged, which can improve overall health.
Therapy Dogs are Not Guide Dogs
No, therapy dogs are not typically trained as guide dogs to assist individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Guide dogs are specifically trained to help people navigate their environment, including crossing streets, avoiding obstacles, and locating specific destinations.
Therapy dogs, on the other hand, are trained to provide comfort, emotional support, and companionship to individuals in various settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and disaster relief sites. While therapy dogs may be used to assist individuals with mobility or physical disabilities, their primary role is not to guide or lead individuals, but to provide emotional support and comfort.
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