Therapy dogs go far beyond the standard view that most people have of dog assistance. Therapy dogs can provide benefits to a broad range of people across a broad range of circumstances. Therapy dogs can provide comfort, much-needed distraction, and even mental and physical wellness benefits that will improve overall quality of life. Let's take a closer look at 4 of the most significant benefits of therapy dogs in order to explore the valuable role that these dogs play in the lives of anyone, young or old, who needs caregiving services.
1. Therapy dogs lower blood pressure
High blood pressure poses some serious health risks, especially in people who have heart conditions, are recovering from surgery or are otherwise at a higher risk for developing problems due to high blood pressure. The presence of a therapy dog in the room—and the act of petting and caring for that dog—will lower someone’s blood pressure in as little as a few minutes. The regular presence of a therapy dog during caregiving services can also help keep a person’s blood pressure down during in-home medical care, whether it is hospice care or weekly medical house calls.
2. Therapy dogs help keep people relaxed and calm
Research has shown that the presence of therapy dogs causes the body to release oxytocin, a natural endorphin in the body which will promote relaxation and overall calmness. The benefits for naturally induced relaxation and calmness are immeasurable, especially in patients who require regular caregiving services. Therapy dogs are especially beneficial in this regard for children or adults who are feeling anxious about receiving medical care.
3. Therapy dogs help reduce pain responses
No one wants to be in pain, and the presence of a therapy dog—and the act of holding and petting one—has been shown to reduce pain responses in people who are experiencing pain, whether that pain is due to chronic pain, a medical condition, an illness, or recovery from surgery. A natural pain relieving response such as merely petting a therapy dog is beneficial for people who cannot or don’t want to take additional pain medications.
4. Therapy dogs help with depression
Depression is a serious concern for anyone who requires in-home caregiving services, especially if it is due to a longstanding or chronic illness. The regular presence of therapy dogs has been shown to improve people’s overall mood and reduce the chances for depression to develop. While possible depression should always be monitored by a health care professional, having a regular therapy dog on hand to reduce the chances of depression is always an excellent idea.
Therapy dogs are so much more than mere animal companions. Pet therapy can provide mental and physical wellness benefits whose value cannot be overstated. Best of all, therapy dogs benefit such a wide range of people—from children to adults, from people undergoing cancer treatments to people recovering from surgery—that just about anyone who requires medical care (and who isn’t allergic) will be able to benefit from their furry paws and wagging tails.
For more information on how our own therapy dog, Delilah, can benefit your assisted living, memory care, hospice, independent living, or in-home care, please contact Homewatch Caregivers of Charlotte today.