I’d like to thank Denise, of San Francisco, for alerting me to an article that appeared in the October 28, 2008 issue of USA Today. Here is an excerpt:
All pet owners and most in the medical community now acknowledge the healing power of animals. Some doctors even write prescriptions giving hospitalized patients access to the pets they left at home. At the 1,000-bed Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., patients can request orders for a recuperative in-room visit with their pet.
But there are pockets of disagreement among doctors when it comes to allowing seriously ill or functionally fragile people to return to a home occupied by a pet buddy. Some advise pets be exiled, fearing that someone in a full-leg cast, for example, might trip over a rambunctious cat and undo everything; or someone with open wounds or whose immune system is weak from chemotherapy or diseases like HIV/AIDS could pick up an infection from the animal.
I understand that allowing gravely ill people to visit with pets carries risks. But time spent with pets may also be beneficial. Pets create a sense of well-being. They reduce stress (which helps the immune system). They give people something to live for, and they motivate people to get well.
I have discussed the human health benefits of pets on many occasions. Check out the humanhealth tag on this blog for a sampling. Here is my take: pets are good for people.
The author of the article in USA Today seems to agree. Here is another excerpt:
Indeed, a growing body of anecdotal data suggests time with a pet may be “as powerful in the person’s recovery as the medical treatment,” says the American Humane Association’s Phil Arkow.