The many benefits of therapy dogs
A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospice, disaster areas, and to people with leaning difficulties.
Research shows that actual interaction with therapy animals can temporarily affect the release of various neurotransmitters in the brain, level of oxytocin linked with bonding and dopamine involved in the reward motivation system is increased. Cortisol levels which is an immunosuppressant associated with stress are decreased.
Therapy dogs are usually not service or assistance dogs but can be if designated as such for people with PTSD. Service dogs perform task for persons with disabilities and have a legal right to accompany their owner in most areas. In the USA, service dogs are legally protected at the federal level by the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990. Therapy dogs are not trained to assist specific individual and do not qualify as service dogs under the Americans with Disabilities act. Institutions may invite, limit, or prohibit access by therapy dogs if allowed, many institutions have rigorous requirements of therapy dogs.
In June of 2014, CBS published an article about the benefits of how therapy dogs keep patients happy and help aid in recovery. As of the writing of this article, several large healthcare organizations have incorporated the use of therapy dogs on the floors of acute care facilities.