SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Dogs provide more than just friendship and company, as a recent study shows that “clinically significant” changes in pain occurred during the recovery process for those recovering in one hospital’s emergency department.
But it’s not only pain that was affected in the study, changes in anxiety, depression and well-being were observed in the therapy dog intervention.
The findings of the study show the potential value of emergency department therapy dogs to affect a patient’s recovery experience.
A psychologist for Cleveland Clinic, Jane Manno, PsyD, states, “Just physically, being around animals releases some positive neurotransmitters in the brain. Studies have shown serotonin and dopamine, so there’s a biological component. It decreases blood pressure, it decreases the stress hormone cortisol.”
Pain is both an emotional and a sensory experience that is unpleasant and specific to an individual, and according to the study (funded by the Royal University Hospital in Saskatchewan), 80% of emergency department visits are to address pain.
The study shows that interactions with a therapy dog “may alleviate pain perception” by serving as a distraction from symptoms as well as influence perceptions of pain intensity.
Outside of the emergency room, Doctor Manno says that in some instances, she will recommend that a patient of hers gets a dog, particularly if they are experiencing mental health issues like anxiety or depression.
And for those who are unable to have one independently, she recommends volunteering at a shelter as an alternative option.
For people considering a dog, Dr. Manno states, “It does make you feel good. It’s a commitment. You’re doing something for the greater good, you’re also meeting people and being with animals as well. So yes, there are a lot of benefits, and it gets you out of the house, particularly if someone is isolating all the time.”
It’s important to note that making sure you have the time and resources to care for an animal is vital when considering to get a furry friend of your own.