Perk Up with Pet Therapy

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What’s better than a picture of a cute puppy? The companionship of a real one, especially if you’re dealing with cancer or other serious illness.

Unconditional Love

If you’ve ever had a beloved pet – dog, cat, bird or bunny – you know the joy that comes from having an animal in your life. Pets put us in touch with simple pleasures. Our relationships with them are comforting and uncomplicated. If we’re having a bad day, they become our trusted confidantes, providing a steady presence without comment or judgment. Is it any wonder the bonds between people and animals are so strong?

Sit, Stay and Heal

It’s not a big leap to understand that pets can provide healing benefits. When we feel nurtured and cared for, our well-being improves. And since our emotional state is connected to our physical state, a surge of good feelings boosts our health and helps manage the side effects of illness and treatment.

Daily Treat, a blog for dog lovers, shares some of the important benefits dogs provide to people with cancer:

  • Relaxation: Spending time with an animal is soothing and serves as a vital respite during times of stress.

  • Safety: Dogs are great listeners. You can talk to them about your fears (or choose not to talk and simply enjoy their company in quiet).

  • Touch: When you pet an animal, your body releases endorphins, a group of hormones that lift mood.

  • Distraction: Paying attention to a dog can help you forget about pain and frustration, which promotes healing.

  • Socialization: Dogs invite conversation and help you create connections with others.

Proven Benefits for Cancer Patients

There’s a clinical study to back this up. Researchers at Beth Israel Cancer Center found that cancer patients who spent time with a therapy dog reported a positive rise in emotions even when their physical well-being declined during chemo and radiation therapy. In fact, they actually came in more regularly for their treatments and experienced less overall anxiety and stress.

So, basically animals have superpowers. But if you’re lucky enough to love an animal, you already know that.