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Pets for Cures

The other day I was watching a news piece about how kittens were brought to a nursing home for the elderly to care for, feed and nurture.  As was reported, some incredible results occurred, most notably the quality of life improved significantly for both the elderly patients and the kittens.  In short, those kittens brought cheer and health to the nursing home residents.

We all love our four-legged friends, but can pets replace medicine? Perhaps not. However, there are countless emotional and physical perks of spending quality time with a pet.  Here are some examples:

  • Playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax
  • Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets
  • Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without
  • Pet owners over the age of 65 make 30% fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets
  • According to Science Daily, kids who grow up with pets in the home have fewer allergies and are less likely to have eczema
  • Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home

Many medical programs across the country incorporate bonding time with therapy pets to help reduce anxiety and lift spirits – from patients undergoing chemotherapy to pediatric dental clinics.

And therapy pets aren’t just beneficial for patients. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania made national headlines for a wildly popular program called “Pet the Pooch.” This program helps to relieve the anxiety sometimes felt by doctors, nurses, and other staff that work in the emergency department. The medical students at Columbia University get a much needed break and plenty of doggy kisses from the five therapy dogs that visit each week.

So, do you need a reprieve from some discouraging health news or from depression because of pain?  Get in touch with a pet!