Pet therapy is a broad term that includes animal-assisted therapy and other animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders. (SOURCE: www.mayoclinic.com/health/pet-therapy)  

WHAT IS ANIMAL ASSISTED THERAPY?: Animal assisted therapy (AAT) uses trained animals to enhance an individual's physical, emotional, and social well-being, thus improving self-esteem, reducing anxiety and facilitating healing. The use of AAT reportedly dates back to the 1940s, when an army corporal brought his Yorkshire terrier to a hospital to cheer wounded soldiers. There was such a positive response that the dog continued to comfort others for 12 more years. (SOURCE: www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03171/Animal-Assisted-Therapy.html /

 

BENEFITS: Animal-assisted therapy can significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression, and fatigue in people with a range of health problems:

 

·         Children having dental procedures

·         People receiving cancer treatment

·         People in long-term care facilities

·         People hospitalized with chronic heart failure

·         Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder

 

And it's not only the ill person who reaps the benefits. Family members and friends who sit in on animal visits say they feel better, too. Pet therapy is also being used in nonmedical settings, such as universities and community programs, to help people deal with anxiety and stress. (SOURCE: www.mayoclinic.com/health/pet-therapy)  

 

RISKS FACTORS: The biggest concern, particularly in hospitals, is safety and sanitation. Most hospitals and other facilities that use pet therapy have stringent rules to ensure that the animals are clean, vaccinated, well trained and screened for appropriate behavior. It's also important to note the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has never received a report of infection from animal-assisted therapy. (SOURCE: www.mayoclinic.com/health/pet-therapy)

 

* For More Information, Contact:

 

            Nanette Madla, Public Affairs

            San Antonio Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center

            Phone: 210-617-5300 x 15253