The holiday season can give rise to a mix of emotions, especially for individuals who are sick or are caring for someone who is sick. It can be hard to embrace the seasonal cheer of the holiday season. If you’re struggling with the stress of festivities on top of dealing with an illness, you may benefit from a therapy dog!
What Is a Therapy Dog?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, therapy dogs are an effective nonpharmacological intervention method for aiding people who may be:
- Managing other life challenges
Therapy dogs can ease individuals’ physical and emotional hardships, from relieving stress among college students during finals and comforting travelers, to providing companionship and motivation to mentally and physically ill individuals.
What Are the Benefits?
- Lowers blood pressure
- Diminishes physical pain
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Increases motor skills
- Produces relaxation response
- Lessens depression
- Reduces anxiety
- Decreases loneliness and feelings of alienation
- Boosts mood
- Lowers stress levels
- Provides comfort
- Increases socialization
Are Therapy Dogs Safe?
Therapy dogs go through an extensive training course to become certified. This ensures therapy dogs are safe to be around children and other animals, and, importantly, understand how to behave around people who are sick. Not only must they be certified, but the Mayo Clinic adds that therapy dogs are vaccinated and screened regularly.
How Does It Work?
If you’re interested in experiencing the positive effects of a therapy dog, but unsure how to find one, there are plenty of options. The American Kennel Club has compiled an extensive list of recognized therapy dog organizations, with several serving the New Jersey and Pennsylvania regions. While many people believe that therapy dogs are restricted to hospital and hospice visits, there are organizations that organize therapy dog visits to private homes with people who are ill or disabled. Check out Caregiver Canines, Paws for People, and Therapy Dogs International to set up a home visit.
What If I’m Not a Dog Person?
We understand, not everyone is a dog person. But, there are plenty of other therapeutic animal options if you’re interested in the benefits. From cats, pigs, and horses to llamas, ducks, and rabbits, you’re sure to find a therapeutic animal that will fit perfectly with your preferences!