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  Forget laughter - Animals are the best medicine.

To demonstrate this, I used the same drug sheet format that was required for each medication researched during my Practical Nursing course, in an attempt to summarize some of the health benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy. (This was originally written for a presentation given during my clinical rotation in Geriatrics.) Enjoy!
The following is Copyright 1995, Roberta Taylor, LPN. Non-profit distribution of this work in unaltered form is permitted, provided this copyright remains intact.



Generic: canis therapis
Trade: Therapy Dog

Approved Manufacturers:

Therapy Dogs International 201-543-0888
Therapy Dogs Incorporated 307-638-3223
Delta Society 206-226-7357

Forms/dosages available:

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.

Side Effects/Adverse Reactions:

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.

Nursing Responsibilities With This Drug:

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

If you have comments or would like to contact the author you can e-mail Roberta
Copyright 1995, Roberta Taylor, LPN. Non-profit distribution of this work in unaltered form is permitted, provided this copyright remains intact.

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    

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