The Health Benefits of Pets


According to scientific research, being in the presence of a pet can have many benefits.  In fact, the simple act of petting an animal can lower a person’s blood pressure.  In the medical profession, there are many physicians who recognize the positive impact a pet can have for an owner who may be hospitalized or dealing with a serious illness. 

Dr. Edward Creagan, an oncologist at Mayo Clinic, believes strongly in the healing aspect of pets.  In fact, he feels so strongly about it, he writes down the name of a patient’s pet when he takes a medical history.  

At Mayo Clinic, where physicians use a team approach to care for patients, you may even find a “furry” member of some care teams.  A care provider with fur?  Yes! He may not have a medical degree, but he comes with his own credentials and specialized training.  His name is Jack, and he is a nine-year-old miniature pinscher who is Mayo’s first, and only, facility-based service dog.  If you read the Sharing Mayo Clinic post from May 7, 2010, you will know he was the inspiration for a new children’s book, “Dr. Jack the Helping Dog,” now available at all Mayo-affiliated retail outlets on each campus (Arizona, Florida and Minnesota).

In the video below, Dr. Creagan talks about the healing aspect of pets.

Barbara Sorensen is a communications consultant in the Department of Public Affairs, Mayo Clinic.

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5 Responses to “The Health Benefits of Pets”

  1. Dennis Stiffler Says:

    I firsthand saw the benefits of the healing aspects of pets. Me and my wife are owners of a 10 year old collie named Sadie. Sadie has always been a loyal and friendly dog, whether it was either with other pets or people.
    Last February, My wife checked into Rochester Methodist for surgery. Unfortunately the 1st surgery did not go well and an emergency surgery was needed leaving my wife in intensive care for a few days. One of the first things she said after the emergency surgery was that she wanted to see her dog. Since she was going to be in the hospital for long time and obiviously feeling miserable. I decided to ask around to see if I could bring Sadie up to see my wife.
    I really did not have much hope of this happening. In the past, In other hospitals the suggestion did not go over very well. Another thing, Sadie was never trained as a therapy dog, however she has showed signs of being caring to those in need on our regular walks around the neighborhood. I was not sure of whether I could keep her from barking so not to disturb other patients and staff.
    I started to ask around to the secretaries , nurses, and doctors about bringing up Sadie and to my surprise all the people I asked not only said it was ok but encouraged me to do so. The only thing i had to do was have Sadie’s shot records from the vet. Since my wife was still feeling poorly, I got a record of Sadie’s shots and set up a weekend to bring her up.
    So I loaded Sadie up in the SUV, along with a few of her necessities, and made the three hour trip to Rochester. When we arrived in Rochester, we checked in at Kahler Hotel across the street from the hospital. The hotel allowed people to bring pets in so that was very convenient. After that was done, Sadie and I walked over to the hospital and went to see my wife. When we got to the floor that my wife was on. we were greeted with smiles from other patients and the nurses. My wife was very happy to see Sadie when she came into the room. The results were instant. In the 2 days she was there, Sadie had done more to make my wife happy and feel better than any of the staff , her parents or myself did. My wife had turned the corner. her attitude improved dramaticly. Sadie came up the following weekend also. My wife was discharged a few days after that.
    Sadie was a very popular dog up at the hospital. Many of the nurses wanted to pet her. Also, some of the patients that were on the same floor wanted to do the same. Not only Sadie was a therapist for my wife, she seemed to improve the spirits of other patients and staff. Though she did bark a few times, nobody seemed to mind. I know Sadie love the atttention!
    I would like to thank Dr Pemberton and his staff, along with all the people who help care for my wife. Also I want to thank them for allowing Sadie to come to see her mommy. I know it made a difference.

    Thanks again,

    Dennis Stiffler

  2. 101 Ways to Hack a Super Stressful Day from || Living My MoMent Says:

    […] with your pets. Pets love us no matter how stressful our day was. Take a walk with your dog, snuggle with a cat or play […]

  3. Deb Says:

    Dr. Creagan’s comments reminded me of when my grandmother was a patient at Rochester Methodist Hospital about 5-6 years ago. Her roommate was a woman from Montana and her husband and pomeranian dog had made the trip with her, staying in a nearby hotel. The hospital staff asked if she’d like to see her dog (after asking my grandmother if it was okay with her). Come to find out her dog had a severe case of separation anxiety and the patient had been worrying about that dog. Her husband brought the dog to the room and my eyes filled with tears as I watched that dog lick her face – they both were clearly happy to be with one another. It didn’t take long before both the patient and her dog were sound asleep and stayed that way for over an hour. I found out that the dog stayed with her master pretty much the rest of her hospital visit – and the husband told me they were going to leave a day earlier than they had expected and the doctors and nurses attributed it to her having her dog with her.

  4. Tina Miller Says:

    Thank you! Its great that Mayo recognizes and supports the healing power of the love we share with our companion animals.

    Sign me,
    Animal Lover that loves working at Mayo!
    Tina Miller <3<3<3

  5. shannon Says:

    I totally agree with that. iam a person who has been dealing with chronic illness for years now. Is there a way to get your landlord to understand this when there is a no pet policy?

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