Is medicine going to the dogs? Yes, but in a good way. Pet therapy is gaining fans in health care and beyond.

Dogs may be good at more than fetching sticks and greeting you after a long day at work. As it turns out, simply having them around may increase your physical health, mental health, while lessening your anxiety and stress level.

Here are some significant benefits:

Physical Health:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Releases endorphins (oxytocin) that have a calming effect
  • Diminishes overall physical pain
  • The act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response, reducing the amount of medication some folks need

Mental Health:

  • Lifts spirits and lessens depression
  • Decreases feelings of isolation and alienation
  • Encourages communication
  • Provides comfort
  • Increases socialization
  • Reduces boredom
  • Lowers anxiety
  • Helps children overcome speech and emotional disorders
  • Creates motivation for the client to recover faster
  • Reduces loneliness

In Physical Therapy:

  • Increases joint movement and improves recovery time
  • Maintains or increases motor skills provides motivation to move more, stretch farther, exercise longer