Who would have heard of a pet in your hospital bed a couple years ago? Yet it is increasingly becoming an option to be considered for quicker healing. Marty Becker wrote a book about the healing power of pets. San Francisco scientists are finding that the kids may be actually less likely to develop asthma in homes where pet dust exists. Researchers in Australia discovered that dog owners visit their doctors less. Minnesota researchers found that those who never had a cat were more likely to die from a heart attack by 40% than those who did.
Many owners consider their pets a part of the family and long-term separation has a hidden adverse effect on the healing process. Close physical contact is where healing is much more likely- in petting, speaking and interacting with their pet. These activities are found to lower blood pressure and release an increase of mood altering neurochemicals into the blood system that gives a sense of bonding, much like what happens when a mother nurses her baby, sending feelings of love, safety, and tranquility. According to one study, simply watching the TV show “Lassie” calmed nerves with a drop in chemicals found to be linked with stress.
Long term patients facing daily structured medical care respond positively to their pet brought for a visit. Pain, comfort levels and even moods have been impacted positively. More and more hospitals are leaning toward programs that involve pet visits. Patients are instructed to wash their hands after a visit and the bed sheets are changed, a small inconvenience in comparison with the trade-off in a patient's overall well-being.