Consumer health basics (12)
- Organ donation: Don't let these myths confuse you
- Health savings accounts: Is an HSA right for you?
- Palliative care: Symptom relief during illness
- see all in Consumer health basics
Alternative medicine (13)
- Mindfulness exercises: How to get started
- Pet therapy: Man's best friend as healer
- Herbal supplements may not mix with heart medicines
- see all in Alternative medicine
- Medication errors: Cut your risk with these tips
- Buying prescription drugs online: The do's and don'ts
- Personalized medicine and pharmacogenomics
- see all in Medications
Pet therapy: Man's best friend as healer
Animal-assisted therapy can help healing and lessen depression and fatigue.By Mayo Clinic staff
Is medicine going to the dogs? Yes, but in a good way. Pet therapy is gaining fans in health care and beyond. Find out what's behind this growing trend.
What is pet therapy?
Pet therapy is a broad term that includes animal-assisted therapy and other animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders.
Animal-assisted activities, on the other hand, have a more general purpose, such as providing comfort and enjoyment for nursing home residents.
How does animal-assisted therapy work?
Imagine you're in the hospital. Your doctor mentions the hospital's animal-assisted therapy program and asks if you'd be interested. You say yes, and your doctor arranges for someone to tell you more about the program. Soon after that, an assistance dog and its handler visit your hospital room. They stay for 10 or 15 minutes. You're invited to pet the dog and ask the handler questions.
After the visit, you realize you're smiling. And you feel a little less tired and a bit more optimistic. You can't wait to tell your family all about that charming canine. In fact, you're already looking forward to the dog's next visit.Next page
(1 of 2)
- DeCourcey M, et al. Animal-assisted therapy: Evaluation and implementation of a complementary therapy to improve the psychological and physiological health of critically ill patients. Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing. 2010;29:211.
- Cangelosi PR, et al. Walking for therapy with man's best friend. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services. 2010;48:19.
- Walsh F. Human-animal bonds I: The relational significance of companion animals. Family Process. 2009;48:462.
- Friesen L. Exploring animal-assisted programs with children in school and therapeutic contexts. Early Childhood Education Journal. 2009;37:261.
- Barker SB, et al. The benefits of human-companion animal interaction: A review. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education. 2008;35:487.
- Jack the dog at your service. In the Loop (blog). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 22, 2010. http://idealab.mayo.edu/intheloop/2010/04/22/meet-the-real-jack-the-service-dog. Accessed July 2, 2012.
- Dr. Jack will see you now. MayoClinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/physicalmedicine-rst/jack-the-dog.html. Accessed June 11, 2012.
- Adamle KN, et al. Evaluating college student interest in pet therapy. Journal of American College Health. 2009;57:545.
- Matuszek S. Animal-facilitated therapy in various patient populations: Systematic literature review. Holistic Nursing Practice. 2010;24:187.
- Marcus DA. Complementary medicine in cancer care: Adding a therapy dog to the team. Current Pain and Headache Reports. In press. Accessed July 2, 2012.
- Marcus DA, et al. Animal-assisted therapy at an outpatient pain management clinic. Pain Medicine. 2012;13:45.
- What is a therapy dog? American Kennel Club. http://www.akc.org/akctherapydog/about.cfm. Accessed June 25, 2012.
- Theimer SM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 10, 2012.