Therapy Dogs Help Heart Patients [Archive] - Honda Element Owners Club Forum

: Therapy Dogs Help Heart Patients


hiker chick
11-15-2005, 03:00 PM
If your pup is friendly with other pups and people -- especially children -- then you may have opportunities in your community to become a certified therapy dog team. There's a lot of need and not enough people and pups in the programs. My Samoyed, Gidget, visits pediatric oncology patients and retirement home residents. Those visits lower MY blood pressure, are a lot of fun (yes, fun) and allow me to share Gidget, who is to me a gift from God, with others. There are therapy dog programs that do not require they be an obedience champion. Gidget sure isn't. She's just nice.

Dogs Lower Anxiety Among Heart Patients

By JAMIE STENGLE, Associated Press WriterTue Nov 15,10:33 AM ET

It turns out dogs are more than man's best friend. They're pretty good at making the sick feel better, too, in ways that can be measured.

A small study showed that visits from therapeutic dogs lowered anxiety, stress and heart and lung pressureamong heart failure patients.

"I'm not surprised at all that something that makes people feel good also makes them feel less anxious, has measurable physiological effects," said Dr. Marc Gillinov, a cardiac surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic who was not involved in the study.

"You can see it on their face, first you see a smile and then you see the worries of the world roll off their shoulders," said Kathie Cole, a nurse at the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center who led the study presented Tuesday at an American Heart Association meeting.

Take Charles Denson, for example. His face brightened as a speckled Australian Shepherd named Bart cuddled next to him as he rested in his hospital bed in a cardiac care unit.

"You've got a pretty coat," the 51-year-old said, while petting Bart's soft fur.

Cole and her colleagues studied 76 heart failure patients — average age 57 — who got either a visit from a volunteer, a volunteer plus a dog, or no visit.

The scientists meticulously measured patients' physiological responses before, during and after the visits.
Anxiety as measured by a standard rating scale dropped 24 percent for those visited by the dog and volunteer team, but only by 10 percent for those visited by just a volunteer. The scores for the group with no visit remained the same.

Levels of epinephrine, a hormone the body makes when under stress, dropped about 17 percent in patients visited by a person and a dog, and 2 percent in those visited just by a person. But levels rose about 7 percent in the unvisited group.

Heart pressure dropped 10 percent after the visit by the volunteer and dog. It increased 3 percent for those visited by a volunteer and 5 percent for those who got no visit. Lung pressure declined 5 percent for those visited by a dog and a volunteer. It rose in the other two groups.

Gillinov said the study was especially impressive because of the hard data it provided as opposed to observations.

Cole said that she hopes the study, funded by the Pet Care Trust Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes the value of animals in society, helps show that pet therapy is a credible addition to patient care, not just a nicety.

"It makes the hospital seem less like a hospital and it lowers people's blood pressure," said Linda Marler, education coordinator for Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation and animal assisted therapy coordinator for Baylor Healthcare System. Her program has grown from its beginnings in 1985 with one dog to 84.

The dogs used in the study — which ranged from a poodle to a golden retriever to a miniature schnauzer — were carefully screened at UCLA and had to pass a behavior test and checkup by a veterinarian, Cole said. Patients were also asked if they liked dogs and wanted to be part of the study.

Dr. George Dennish, a cardiologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., said that he occasionally uses dogs in therapy.

"(The patients) felt better, they felt calmer, they felt more satisfied," Dennish said.

But he said more long-term studies with more people need to be done.

For bypass patient Danny Smith, being visited by a furry friend was a highlight of his stay at Scripps Memorial.

"It was very relieving because all they want to do was give you love," said Smith, 57, of Oceanside, Calif.
After his visit to Denson at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Bart padded into 68-year-old John Coleman's room. The predictable smile emerged and Coleman began reminiscing: "Last dog I had was a Dachshund."

Miss Ellie & Co.
11-15-2005, 03:08 PM
Just another reason they are called man's best friend. Dogs rule!

linger
11-15-2005, 10:37 PM
My wife and I regularly take or lab Bailey to visit her grandmother in the nursing home (she has alzheimers/dementia). The folks there light up when they see him. I've never considered him a "therapy" dog -- especially since he's 3 years old and often acting like a pup -- but he *always* calms down when we go to the nursing home. It's amazing the instincts that dogs have, especially around the elderly and sick.

Her mind has been slipping away slowly for years, but it's wonderful to have a moment of clarity (even if it's brief). Afer we leave, if my wife's grandmother is asked if family came by for a visit, "not today" she'll respond. Asked if Bailey came by, "oh yes!"

Box4Rox
11-15-2005, 11:47 PM
Take Charles Denson, for example. His face brightened as a speckled Australian Shepherd named Bart cuddled next to him as he rested in his hospital bed in a cardiac care unit. . . .
Here's Bart !!! How could you not be cheered up by that face :)

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a246/box4rox/dog_therapy.jpg

boneheadz
11-16-2005, 08:48 AM
Oh my god, bart is a great looking dog. Kuma dreams of being a therapy dog.

bone

hiker chick
11-16-2005, 02:40 PM
Afer we leave, if my wife's grandmother is asked if family came by for a visit, "not today" she'll respond. Asked if Bailey came by, "oh yes!"

Great story! Bailey is definately a therapy dog.

Dog Owned
07-20-2010, 12:58 PM
I know this is an old thread, but I just saw it and had to respond.

I used to be the dog trainer and dog/owner screener for the Pet-Assisted Therapy Program for the SPCA in Southern California. I am telling you, out of all of the volunteer work I have done in my life, that was the most rewarding experience I have ever had.

We did monthly visits to the county children's home where some of the kids would not talk to the adults there because they were so traumatized, but would talk to and hug your dogs when you brought them in. We also did monthly visits to a brain trauma hospital and rehabilitation because interacting with the dogs would cause the patients to make more efforts during physical therapy...and this one patient who had almost died in an accident had spoken his first words after the brain damage to our dogs when the doctors said he would never have the ability to respond to anyone again for the rest of his life. That picture made the papers.

Please look up the nearest therapy pet program in your area and volunteer...even if your own dog does not pass screening (one of my own three would not pass for sure, being a shy adult rescue dog), they need extra people to handle a dog for owners who go on facility visits with more than one dog, etc. You will not be sorry. And bring kleenex. ;-)

Peace,

-Owl Bear

hiker chick
07-20-2010, 01:50 PM
A worthy topic to revisit.

It's the most rewarding volunteer effort I've ever been part of.

And it is work that dogs enjoy.

:-)

Dog Owned
07-20-2010, 02:09 PM
A worthy topic to revisit.

It's the most rewarding volunteer effort I've ever been part of.

And it is work that dogs enjoy.

:-)



HC - you are SO right!
The therapy dogs wore bandanas that identified them...and they really changed their demeanors when you would put them on. They knew they had a job to do, and LOVED it. It was different than taking them anywhere else.

barkdogs
07-20-2010, 05:35 PM
Anyone in So. Cal. is welcome to be a part of BARK (Beach Animals Reading with Kids). We've grown to 63 dog teams and now have our own certification/testing and insurance. We mainly listen to kids read but attend other therapy locations too. We're even "listening" to deaf kids sign their words!

readingdogs.org

If you're not in So Cal and want to read with kids, e-mail me and I'd be happy to help you set it up.

barkreadingdogs@aol.com

hiker chick
07-20-2010, 06:05 PM
What a great program - and wonderful photos!
:-)

Jeannine
07-23-2010, 03:15 PM
Baxter's in Canine Good Citizen classes right now and we intend on getting certified by Delta or Therapy Dogs International after this. My ultimate goal is to have him doing visits at the children's hospital, a retirement home, or doing a reading program like the one above.

I'm so excited!!! He is such a great dog with kids that I think one of the children's programs will be the best match. :)