JoAnna Lou
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Healing Power of Dogs
More health care professionals are bringing their pets to work
Who wouldn't want to visit the doctor if you got to meet this cute dog?

Any dog lover knows the unique ability our pets have to cheer us up when we’re not feeling well. As a pet therapy team, Nemo and I have seen firsthand the power of pets to cheer people up at the hospital, often a very depressing place.

And it seems that health care professionals are catching on. The Wall Street Journal reports that a growing number of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and other therapists are bringing their dogs to work to calm patients.

Research shows that a few minutes spent petting a dog decreases levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in both the human and the dog. It also increases prolactin and oxytocin, the hormones that control nurturing and security, as well as serotonin and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters that boost mood. One study found that five minutes with a dog was as relaxing as a 20-minute break for hospital workers.

Even medical schools have acknowledged the importance of pet therapy. Many schools, like Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine, offer a human-animal interaction class for medical and psychiatry students. As more studies are done on this topic, I hope that more health care professionals will be encouraged to listen to the research and bring their pets to work.



JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by Bogart Handsome Devil/flickr.

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Submitted by Lulu | January 31 2011 |

That's my boy, Bogart!

That photo was taken while I was having blood drawn at my doctor's office (the nurses dressed him up). We had just lost my husband, and the doctor's office allowed me to bring Bogart along as I couldn't leave the house without him.

Bogart also got to visit my husband in the ICU - and was literally the only thing that he reacted to (he was in septic shock and sadly did not recover). Dogs are indeed that powerful. I will forever be indebted to the amazing nurses who allowed Bogart in to say goodbye to his dad.


Submitted by Peter | December 26 2012 |

Here's a fun article about the healing power of dogs! It makes the point that dogs heal by setting us a good example of how to live our lives true to our own nature. Healing Power of Dogs

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