Benefits of Pet Therapy for Cancer Patients in Hamilton County

Submitted by Sally Keys


Hamilton County experiences an average of 4,191 new invasive cancer cases each year, and sadly 1,668 deaths occurred here each year as a result between 2008-2012. When it comes to cancer, there's no such thing as doing too much to combat the disease. No matter how odd or foolish an idea may seem, everything is worth trying at least once. One of the latest trends in cancer treatment is pet therapy.

With pet therapy, a wide variety of animals can be used to comfort cancer patients and help them through their treatment, which is usually a grueling and difficult experience. Here are a few of the benefits of experiencing pet therapy to complement a treatment program.


Release Endorphins

Cancer patients interacting with different animals during pet therapy sessions has been shown to release endorphins in the patient and help him or her to feel better. Some patients will pet fluffy dogs while others will learn to groom and ride a horse. In either case, the simple act of giving and receiving affection can release endorphins and make the cancer patient feel better about his or her treatment.


Reduce Stress

Few things are as stressful as a grueling regiment of chemotherapy and radiation, and so any way to relieve that stress is worth trying. Those with pets often look to them to relax and calm down in stressful situations, and the same principle can be applied to cancer patients, who need a way to decompress. Relieving the stress they feel can be a helpful part of their cancer treatment.


Combats Loneliness

Even with a strong support system, it's common for cancer patients to get lonely during treatment. Aside from other cancer patients, it's difficult for them to find anyone who understands what they are going through. The beauty of therapy pets is that they've been trained to respond to human emotions, meaning they can be a source of empathy a cancer patient may otherwise be missing.


Welcome Distraction

For a lot of cancer patients, their disease comes to define their life. As a result, it can be difficult to find an activity that isn't somehow related to or influenced by having cancer. But a pet therapy session can be a good way to distract them from everything else going on and give them an opportunity to relax and enjoy themselves for a little while.


Emotional Connection

Many patients who experience pet therapy marvel at the emotional connection they make with the animal, whether it be a cat, dog, horse or a rabbit. Those who are open to the process make a genuine connection with the animal that can be therapeutic and ends up helping them during their treatment.