October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – which is an illness that touches many as a survivor or knowing someone with this disease. Today, we’d like to highlight one of the things many breast cancer patients use to comfort and assist them in their time of need – Support Animals for Illnesses.
Anyone who owns a pet knows the joy that an animal can bring into anyone’s lives. Lately, scientific research suggests that animals used in a more proactive way can benefit someone’s health, even those suffering from chronic illness. More animals (primarily dogs but cats, birds, horses and birds are being used as well) are being introduced in a therapeutic atmosphere to effect positive change.
Places such as mental health institutions, nursing homes and hospitals are being joined by less obvious locations such as colleges, residents for the incarcerated and more. Within these locations, therapies provided include less structured events like petting hours at universities that allow students to take time to unspool and enjoy emotional support animals. Dogs are also being applied assigned roles within mental health programs, such as service animals trained to help veterans deal with specific issues. There are even working dogs who can alert to many kinds of cancer within the body.
The scientific backing for working animals is there and growing larger and more settled all the time. Scientific studies are focusing on the effect of animal interaction on the hormone Oxytocin. Oxytocin, or the hormone that causes humans to feel contented and trusting, is generated by happy interaction with animals. Increased levels of Oxytocin allow the body to heal faster and grow new cells – which can lead to much longer-term benefits for the body.
A larger study, operated through the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, formed a federal research program to address specifically the influence of animals on child development through the lens of therapeutic treatment. Further, the program investigates this treatment’s capability to decrease or avert sickness.
As time goes on, we look forward to seeing even more scientific studies into the benefits of having animals in one’s life. We firmly believe in the power of animal interaction to heal soul, mind and/or body. We hope you have experienced some of the joy that animals can bring!
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