You may not think that pets and hospitals go hand in hand, but they do. The very presence of an animal in the hospital often causes an uproar – but in a good way. Everyone wants to get in on the fun.

Have you ever been in hospital? It can be a scary place. And, it's filled with sick people. The environment can also be lonely and isolated with only health professionals coming into your room. For some, hospitals conjure up visions of pain and death. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Pet therapy programs can be found in a number of healthcare facilities. They are designed to assist patients with recovery and treatment. We have heard about pets increasing good mood and decreasing blood pressure. They are sensitive to the moods of their owners and strive to soothe them whenever possible. Pets have been used in therapy for people with pain issues (such as arthritis), behavioral issues, mental health patients, veterans with PTSD, nursing home residents and more.

Just their companionship can provide health benefits such as:

* Lower cholesterol levels
* Lower blood pressure (previously mentioned)
* Increased alertness
* Increased balance
* Increased well being and socialization
* Less stress

Who wouldn’t benefit from that kind of therapy? People worry about pets in hospitals but measures are carefully taken to ensure that the animals chosen to participate in these therapy programs are immunized, friendly, clean and well-behaved.

Four Ways to Help Sick People with Pets

1. Face challenges

Pets are a responsibility. Learning to care for them and see them every day can spark a renewed sense of purpose in those who are undergoing chemotherapy or other major procedure. Their bond with the pets gives them a reason to fight on and meet difficult medical challenges with hope and a positive outlook.

2. Shorter recovery time

Many hospital patients who receive pet therapy are reminded of their own pets left behind at home. The therapy pet is a willing surrogate and can also help their recipients to recover faster or need less care so that they can get back home to their beloved dog or cat. Many patients are secretly worried about who will care for their pets while they are away or if something happens to them.

3. Companionship

It can be lonely staying in the hospital. Therapy animals make the stay more interesting and less isolated. Patients who may not get a lot of visitors look forward to their daily dog walk or cuddle time.

4. Improved family interaction

Other family members benefit from animal visits as well. The presence of a dog affects everyone in the room. They can forget for a moment and enjoy a laugh and a cuddle with their loved one and their doggie friend.

Sickness doesn’t have to be a lonely experience when therapy pets are around.

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