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Why a Therapy Dog Might Be Just What You Need

11:10 July 13, 2020
By: Kristal Blue

Dogs are amazing because they can serve as companions and friends and can provide emotional support to people. Dogs are very sensitive to the emotions of their owners and other people, and this makes them very suitable to provide therapy to people who are going through difficult times.

Dogs used for therapy are from various age groups and breeds. A therapy dog has gone through training so that it can comfort people who are in hospitals, in nursing homes, or even at school. These dogs can also be used in animal-assisted therapy, to help people who have been through trauma and to enhance their ability to cope. Therapy dogs should be kept clean and be vaccinated, so that they do not transmit infections to people.

Who Needs Therapy Dogs?

Therapy dogs can be used to comfort people who are suffering from anxiety. Therapy dogs are also useful in hospice homes where they provide emotional support for people who are on palliative care for terminal diseases. Elderly people and those who suffer from dementia benefit from friendly therapy dogs as well. And these dogs also help to provide emotional support to people who are going through post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In addition, therapy dogs are helpful for people suffering from fatigue due to chronic conditions like heart disease. They also benefit people with psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder and autism. Cancer patients who are going through chemotherapy also benefit from therapy dogs. Therapy dogs can, therefore, be used in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, retirement homes, and households.

What Are the Criteria for Getting a Therapy Dog?

The first step in the process of acquiring a therapy dog is determining whether you will benefit from it. You should not have a phobia of dogs when considering getting a therapy dog. A licensed mental health professional will help you in getting the right documentation that will allow you to live with the therapy dog. The Fair Housing Act allows you to live with a therapy dog in your apartment when you have an ESA (emotional support animal) housing letter from a professional.

The ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional restricts the landlord from charging you extra rent for staying with the dog. You will, however, need to ensure that your therapy dog does not cause any damages to the apartment because the ESA letter does not address damages. A good therapy dog is one that is well trained and calm and can tolerate other pets and people unfamiliar to the dog.

A therapy dog should also be healthy, clean, vaccinated, and dewormed. This will prevent the risk of disease transmission and allergies, especially if the dog will be around people with weak immunity. The dog's movement should be restricted to where it is needed, and you should ensure that you wash your hands every time you come in contact with the dog. Therapy dogs should also be toilet trained and should have regular health checks.

[Ryan Stone/Unsplash]

How Can You Benefit from a Therapy Dog?

Emotional Support

Therapy dogs have a strong bond with humans and are very friendly. A therapy dog will provide you with the emotional support that you need when you are struggling with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other chronic diseases. Staying with the therapy dog will distract you from your worries and stress.

It has also been scientifically proven that staying around pets like therapy dogs causes your brain to release "good hormones," such as serotonin and oxytocin, which lift your mood. Therapy dogs are also empathetic and sympathetic and can know when you are not okay emotionally. Therapy dogs will also help you to develop social and interpersonal skills.

A therapy dog can help to boost your self-esteem and help you become more aware of your surroundings. These dogs can also help you to focus on your schoolwork and enjoy reading by reducing your anxiety. They keep you company, thus reducing boredom and loneliness. Therapy dogs also improve your social-interaction skills and help you communicate more confidently.


The bond that you create with the therapy dog also helps your brain to release endorphins, which improve pleasure and make you feel good. This can help to reduce the physical pain that you are going through.

This bond also contributes to lowering blood pressure, which is good for your heart. A therapy dog can also help you to become physically active and therefore improve the movement of joints and enhance recovery. If you are going through a tough situation or sickness, a therapy dog might be just what you need to feel better.

A therapy dog is a trained dog that provides you with emotional support when going through physical and mental issues. An emotional support animal (ESA) letter from a licensed mental health professional allows you to live with a therapy dog in your place without paying extra money to the landlord. Therapy dogs are friendly and provide you with comfort, while also helping you to develop literacy and social skills.

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