The Touch of a paw can heal

Follow Us

For the latest Health Information and Wellness Tips from PIH Health.

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram

Published on April 26, 2018

The Touch of a Paw Can Heal

Photo of a dog's paw in a person's hand

Photo of a dog's paw in a person's handWhat is pet therapy?

Pet therapy or animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, mental health disorders, anxiety and stress.

How does pet therapy help patients?

Studies have shown that pet therapy visitation programs help patients by providing physical and emotional stimulation, social interaction and comfort. These physical and psychological benefits have been known to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, improve physical functioning, decrease stress and anxiety, enhance pain management, improve short and long term memory, improve communication, and promote a sense of well-being.

Who can benefit from pet therapy?

  • people with a range of health problems
  • people receiving cancer treatment
  • long-term care patients
  • children faced with medical visits, procedures
  • college students during finals
  • people in community programs

Requirements of Therapy Dogs

There are hundreds of organizations that certify therapy dogs. They all have different evaluation and testing requirements, but most of them require the following for certification:

  • Minimum of 1 year old
  • Know and obey basic obedience commands
  • Must be friendly with people and other dogs
  • No barking
  • No jumping on people
  • Must have a calm temperament

Dogs must be groomed within 24 hours before each visit (grooming can include a wipe down with a dog toilette and a brushing)

To reduce stress and maintain your health, you should also get daily physical activity, eat a healthy diet, and see your doctor regularly,” said Janet Edward-Staples MD with PIH Health Physicians.

If you are interested in volunteering at PIH Health Hospital in Downey or Whittier, visit us at

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.