Pet Therapy

Previously, I have written on how pet ownership can be beneficial to your adult health and also help children emotionally and medically, but now the Mayo Clinic has taken it to another level. The newest trend in medicine is to implement “Pet Therapy”. It has been reported that pet therapy and animal assisted therapy not only help healing in general, but lessen depression and fatigue. So what is pet therapy? It is a term that is applied to any animal-assisted activities that help people recover from surgery, illness, and/or better cope with their health problems and aging. This therapy has been helping the physical and mental handicapped population for decades. Recently, the Mayo Clinic reported success in the treatment of heart disease, cancer, and serious psychiatric problems. In addition, they reported success in pain reduction, and depression especially in nursing home residents. They have also reported success in reducing pain in children having dental procedures, and with our veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, they have a dozen certified therapy dogs in their program called the Mayo Clinic?s Caring Canine Program. The biggest concern in hospitals and nursing homes with this program is sanitation and safety. There are strict rules in force to ensure that all the animals used are clean, house broken, vaccinated, well trained and screened for the proper behavior. In fact, the Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC) has never received a report of illness transmitted to a human being from the utilization of animal -assisted therapy. One of the newest programs being initiated is in the non-medical fields of higher education and community programs. In these, often considered high stress situations, it has been found that pet therapy, pet-assisted programs and pet ownership (in dorms for example) often reduce high anxiety and stress. It has even reduced the student suicide rate in certain university settings.