Therapy Dogs Can Lead to Happiness, Lessen Feelings of Depression

As a pet owner, you benefit every day from the wonderful companionship gained from having a pet. There’s the unbridled joy of a dog wagging his tail each time you come home, and that special warmth you feel when your cat curls up next to you on the sofa and purrs. But did you know that pets could also make great therapy companions? It’s scientifically proven that therapy dogs help lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, lift spirits and lessen depression. Read on to learn more about the benefit of therapy dogs – and whether your dog might be a therapy dog in the making!

3 Benefits of Therapy Dogs

#1: Less stress and anxiety. Scientific studies found that a visit from a therapy dog can help elevate mood by decreasing levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and epinephrine in the blood stream. And while visits from volunteers also helped lower these neurotransmitter levels, the greatest decrease came from therapy dog visits. Many hospitals report that a visit from a therapy dog helps to reduce patient anxieties before certain health examinations, such as MRI scans.

#2: Improve cardiovascular health. The act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response, including the releases endorphins that have a calming effect on the body and diminish overall pain sensations. Visits from therapy dogs lower blood pressure and may even reduce the amount of medication that some patients need.

#3: Increase happiness. One important benefit of therapy dogs is that they lift the spirits and lessen depression. Dogs encourage communication and connection, which decreases feelings of isolation and alienation while increasing socialization and reducing boredom. Therapy dogs have also been shown to help motivate patients to recover faster and even help children overcome speech and emotional disorders.

Wondering if your dog would be a good therapy dog? The most important characteristic of a good therapy dogs is the ability to remain physically calm and be unfazed by physical attention, loud noises, and other distractions.

Questions about therapy dogs or therapy dog benefits? Post them below for our veterinarian.

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