Paws with Purpose: How Pet Therapy Helps Children and Adults Heal

Young Girl Being Visited In Hospital By Therapy DogUndeniable affection and their amazing ability to learn are just a few of the many wonderful aspects of our canine friends. For the dog lover, the significant emotional and physiological benefits of the human-dog connection is nothing new. It is incredibly exciting to see research that supports and affirms this basic truth: interacting with an animal can be healing.

A study by Rebecca Johnson, Ph.D., RN, of the University of Missouri-Columbia Center for the Study of Animal Wellness, illustrated that when we interact with a pet, such as petting our dog, we experience an overall sense of well-being. This is largely due to what takes place in us physiologically as the body produces more “feel good” chemicals, such as dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphin. Studies conducted in the 80s concluded that heart attack survivors who owned a dog lived longer than those without – and, that simply petting a dog can lower blood pressure.

While we all consider our own wonderful pooches to be exceptional and perhaps even therapeutic to us, for a dog to be classified as a service dog, specific criteria and rigorous training must be met to teach these dogs the skills they will need to be a therapeutic partner. Continue…

Cancer in Pets: Know Your Enemy

November was Pet Cancer Awareness Month, and although we’re now into December, we wanted to be sure to address this important topic.

The good news:  Our pets are living longer than ever thanks to advances in medicine and better overall standards for care.  The bad news:  Just like in people, the longer a pet lives the more likely it is to be affected by cancer.  In fact 1 in 4 pets will die of cancer.  But all hope is not lost.  By following these tips you can help catch problems in your pet early as well as take actions to try to minimize the risks of your pet developing cancer.

  • Keep those appointments.  Annual or semi-annual vet visits allow us to perform a thorough examination and lab work as well as time for us to discuss any new concerns that you might have.  These visits are an important step in stopping cancer in its tracks.
  • Know your breed.  Did you know that certain breeds of dogs and cats are more prone to certain types of cancers?  While any breed can develop any kind of cancer, knowing what body systems would most likely be affected can tip you off to problems early on in the process.  General signs of a problem can include weight loss or behavior changes, among other things.
  • If it’s bad for you it’s bad for your pet.  Substances that are known to cause cancer in people likely can lead to cancer in our pets- think cigarette smoke, asbestos, and herbicides.  As if you needed another good reason to give up smoking!
  • Spay or neuter!  Spaying your dog or cat greatly reduces her risk of mammary cancer (among other health issues) and a pet that is neutered can’t get testicular cancer!
  • What’s good for the goose…  We’ve all heard it a million times over.  Eat right and exercise.  Good quality nutrition and a healthy weight are important factors in reducing cancer risk.

While cancer is a formidable foe, it is not unbeatable.  By working with us as a team, you can help identify problems early, making your pet’s prognosis much more favorable.