Generic: canis therapis
Trade: Therapy Dog
Therapy Dogs International 201-543-0888
Therapy Dogs Incorporated 307-638-3223
Delta Society 206-226-7357
Nearly infinite variety, from 3Kg Chihuahuas to 70Kg Mastiffs. Among
the preferred forms are Collies, Golden Retrievers, and others with
soft, fluffy coats which provide superior tactile stimulation.
Anti-depressant, analgesic, anti-hypertensive
Recommended to alleviate depression, anxiety, and stress in the homebound
or institutionalized patient.
Can stimulate spontaneous performance of active ROM exercises, especially
of the hand. Can relax pre-existing contractures due to arthritis.
Increases motivation to get out of bed in the morning.
Decreases blood pressure. (1)
Contributes to survival rate post-MI. (1)
Decrease risk of the "helplessness/hopelessness" syndrome associated
with greater rates of invasive cancer and vulnerability to sudden death
Has been seen to increase awareness in the cognitively impaired.
Stimulates social interaction, as patients anticipate their medication,
or share memories of the experience.
Allergic reactions, fear and anxiety have been noted in some patients.
(In some cases, alternate drugs in this classification, such as felis
therapis, can provide the same therapeutic effects without the adverse
effects. However, it must be remembered that these drugs are often not
produced under the same strict quality standards.)
Some patients may become dependent on the medication; however, this is
not necessarily an undesirable effect.
Still other patients may become over-stimulated; in such a case, a
reduced dose or alternate medication may suffice.
Recommended route is topical application, ideally between the lap
and the palm of the hand. Wet applications to the cheek have also
been found to be effective. Usually prescribed prn with no limits
on frequency of application.
Assess for therapeutic effect: Increased smiles, social stimulation,
physical movement; reduced BP, anxiety, loneliness.
Provide a quiet environment for the administration of the medication.
Best results are obtained from one-on-one interaction without excessive
or unnecessary interruptions.
Assess the dosage required. Some patients can not handle excessive
stimulation, and may benefit from a reduced dose of a similar med, such
as a cage of brightly colored birds in the day room.
Check patient's history prior to administration, looking for allergies
and phobias. If possible, consult a friend or relative regarding the
patient's past reactions toward animals.
Assess for signs of allergy or fear. D/C use if either occur.
(1) Dr. Alan Katcher, associate professor of psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania
This article is brought to you by DogPlay reprinted here courtesy of the author, Roberta Taylor
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Copyright © 1996 Roberta Taylor Published here: April 8, 1996 Updated November 12, 2007