Animal Assisted Therapy Dogs

 

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) involves an animal with specific characteristics becoming a fundamental part of a person's treatment.  Animal-assisted therapy is designed to improve the physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning of the patient, as well as provide educational and motivational effectiveness for participants.  AAT can be provided on an individual or group basis.  During AAT, therapists document records and evaluate the participant's progress.

We offer classes for therapy dogs to become AAT dogs.  We provide training in how to interact with the child/adult with the guidance of the teacher/therapist to improve the patient's functioning and work directly on the goals of the patients. 

Becoming an AAT team takes more than just a dog that can sit and listen to a child read or allowing others to pet them.  It takes specific training and dedication.

If you are interested in becoming an AAT team, please contact us to find out more!


What Are the Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy for Cancer Patients? 

Animal-assisted therapy is a medically recognized treatment that employs various types of animals to help boost patients' emotional and physical well-being. The most commonly used animals are cats and dogs, but others include fish, dolphins, miniature horses and miniature pigs. Cancer patients can receive substantial benefits from the complementary treatment of animal-assisted therapy during chemotherapy, after an operation and during long-term recovery at home.

Emotional Support

Patients suffering from cancer often experience a high degree of stress and depression. Hospitals often use dogs and cats to help patients after surgery or during chemotherapy. Patients may not always have family members or friends nearby to provide hourly companionship and support and may feel more comfortable talking with support animals about their fears when dealing with cancer. Dogs and cats, especially ones that are trained in the service field, are unconditionally supportive and loving to patients.

According to American Humane, an online resource, patients benefit from animal-assisted therapy due to mental stimulation and an increase in physiological response. In the November 2007 issue of "Anticancer Research," Dr. Massimo Orlandi and associates found that animal-assisted therapy was significantly beneficial in reducing depression in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

 Healing Effects

Animal-assisted therapy has also shown to be beneficial for cancer patients' physical health outcomes. Having service animals nearby can reduce a patient's anxiety and stress and this, in turn, allows the body to focus more energy on physical recovery.

In the January 2007 issue of "Complementary Health Practice Review," Michele Morrison, MS, RN, of William Paterson University of New Jersey, stated that animal-assisted interventions showed a significant improvement in blood pressure, heart rate and salivary immunoglobulin-A levels, which is a marker for immune system health.


Service animals in the room may also provide support and encouragement during physical therapy sessions for patients recovering from various cancer treatments. Patients may feel more comfortable trying to walk again or using new prosthetics when in the presence of therapy animals.

Reduced Pain

Pain is one of the most common reported side effects of both cancer and its treatments. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and tumor removal surgery can leave patients feeling a considerable amount of pain. Service animals have been shown in numerous studies to reduce the perception of pain and the additional need for addictive painkillers.

In the March 2006 issue of the "Journal of Holistic Nursing," Dr. Elisa Sobo and associates found that canine visitation therapy significantly reduced pain in pediatric patients. The researchers suggested that animal companionship helps reduce the cognitive focus on pain that may occur more with isolation during recovery. According to a November 2009 article in ScienceDaily, Francis Vlasses, Ph.D., RN, and associates at Loyola University found that patients receiving pet therapy required 50 percent less pain medication. Support animals can help the body release its own natural painkillers and help to reduce dependence on pharmaceutical painkillers, according to the study.