Therapy on Four Legs

Older man in hospital bet with a yellow lab lying next to himPet affection and loyalty can do more than provide companionship and happiness. That soft caress or snuggling with your furry friend can improve your health. Animals can help you feel better just like the most modern medicine or treatment. Pets help reduce anxiety and stress and help you better cope with health problems or disorders. Who doesn’t feel better when a pet comes to cuddle, greets you with loving eyes, an animated face (i.e. the “doggie smile”), floppy ears or wagging tail?

The bond and unconditional love between humans and animals can provide an emotional and physical boost. The use of pet therapy in hospitals and medical environments goes back more than 150 years. A 10 or 15-minute visit from a trained therapy animal can put children and adults at ease in medical facilities. The visit can take the focus of attention away from the illness and bring optimism. Pets in medical facilities are matched according to patient needs. A high-energy child might meet a dog who chases objects or obeys commands. A small, quiet lap pet is better for a patient in intensive care.

BayCare uses pet therapy in several of our hospitals and is always seeking new animals and volunteers to participate in our program. Volunteers and pets go through training and certification before joining the team. Your pet will also receive necessary vaccinations. Volunteers and their pets typically visit hospitals in two-hour time blocks, meeting with numerous patients. If you believe your pet is a candidate for the program and you are willing to donate your time and compassion, contact the volunteer office at your nearest BayCare hospital for more information.