How Therapy Dogs Help Cancer Patients

Therapy dogs help reduce patients’ anxiety, resulting in more stable blood pressure.



I’m sure all of us have been affected by cancer in some way. A loved one has had it, a friend’s loved one has had it or we have had it ourselves. Oftentimes, the person living with cancer is also living with an animal that provides emotional support simply just by being there. According to a recent article by Gizmodo, therapy dogs actually help cancer patients by reducing the patients’ anxiety. Less anxiety means more stabilized blood pressure.

While a patient’s pet may not be allowed in the hospital, therapy dogs are, and they’re there for a reason. “[P]etting a friendly dog can reduce stress and make patients’ lives a little better,” Gizmodo reports. American Humane Association researchers and Amy McCullough, National Director of Humane Research and Therapy, are currently studying the effects of therapy dogs on children with cancer.

The study involved short weekly visits with the dogs and children who were recently diagnosed with cancer, Gizmodo reports; “51 kids and their parents at 5 hospitals around the U.S. participated in the study, along with 31 therapy dogs and their handlers. Kids who got weekly dog visits had more stable blood pressure and heart rate than those who didn’t get to spend time with a dog, according to early results presented today at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition.”

The study concluded that therapy dogs also helped with anxiety.

Does this mean more dogs will be allowed with cancer patients? Do you think they should be?


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