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Fur Is the Best Medicine
Pet therapy helps to reduce the need for pain pills.

As a pet therapy team, my Sheltie, Nemo, and I have visited patients at the hospital and read with kids at the library. Nemo loves children, so he’s always excited about the reading program, although sitting in one place for 15-30 minutes can sometimes be a challenge! But my favorite place to visit is the hospital. I love bringing some canine sunshine into the dreary rooms and chatting with the patients about their pets at home. Many times I’m not sure who’s getting more out of our visits, me or the people we meet.

A new study, presented in October by Loyola University Health System Registered Nurse Julia Havey, demonstrates the power and potential of pet therapy on patients. The research, presented at the 18th Annual Conference of the International Society of Anthrozoology, showed that adults who participate in animal-assisted therapy while recovering from total join-replacement surgery required 50 percent less pain medication than those who did not. 

Julia and her fellow researcher, Frances Vlasses, a nursing professor at Loyola University, believe that animal-assisted therapy will one day become a standard part of healing. With a statistic like that, I’m hopeful that more animal lovers will be inspired to become therapy teams.

Do you have a pet therapy story to share?

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

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