Therapy dogs can reduce the physical pain of patients, according to a new study. The findings confirm the long-held accounts of dog owners and other pet enthusiasts-that pets can help humans lessen their physical pain and negative emotions.
Animal therapy has been used in medical facilities, including clinics, hospitals, research, and clinical settings, as a form of clinical treatment. The therapy help patients recover from physical health problems and emotional sickness, including mental health disorders.
It has been evident that an affection received from an animal or a pet has a positive effect on physical health and mental health. However, the specific connection between animal affection and physical pain is not well-defined.
However, the new study sheds light that therapy dogs or support dogs can also mitigate our perception of physical pain. Researchers explored the multi-faceted beneficial effects of therapy dogs on human health, including in the physical and emotional aspects.
Therapy Dogs and Physical Pain
(Photo : Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images)
In the new study published in the journal PLOS One on Wednesday, March 9, researchers utilized the intervention of therapy dogs on patients in an emergency department setting. They observed that there are significant changes in patients visited by the support dogs.
The researchers conducted an experiment by separating a total of 200 participants to form two groups: experiment group and control group. The control had received no visit or dog affection.
The researchers then used the therapy dogs on the experiment group and asked its participants to report pain on a scale between 1 and 10, as per CNN. The patients reported that they felt less pain when the support dogs visited them.
The study concluded that just a 10-minute moment between a patient and a therapy dog had reduced physical pain and negative emotions, including anxiety, well-being, and depression, of the persons visited by the dogs. The result yielded clinically-significant changes for the experimental group.
Based on the result, it can be articulated that the experiment group benefited the most from the animal-assisted therapy compared to patients within the control group. Following the study, further research is still necessary as other factors are not yet taken into account, including pet allergy or animal phobia.
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According to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), animal therapy or pet therapy yields positive effects on both physical and mental health. Also known as animal-assisted therapy, it was found that there is a scientific correlation between animal affection and poor health conditions.
Similar to the new study, UCLA outlined that animal-assisted therapy research suggests when humans interact with animals, the body releases the relaxing hormone called serotonin. With this, it shows that animal therapy reduces loneliness and increases mental stimulation in the brain.
On the other hand, the research shows animal therapy also lowers blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health. Under this process, the recuperation effect of animals on humans signifies that biological changes in physical and mental health are mutually related.
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