“Did you know that dogs are cute? Did you also know that they are friendly? I bet you also didn’t know that they’re great companions!”

Jonathan Gran


The therapeutic potential of dogs is admittedly limited. For example, if you ever need coronary artery bypass surgery, you do not want to receive it from a Chesapeake Bay retriever – regardless of how good a boy or girl they happen to be.


But ridiculous exceptions aside, therapy dogs do provide real benefits! Let’s find out why there are currently over 50,000 therapy dogs in the United States, including Acucare Physical Therapy’s very own Jody and Murphy.


Therapy Dogs Can Alleviate Stress and Anxiety


Let’s get one thing straight: if you have cynophobia, sharing space with a dog will not help to alleviate your anxiety. But if you’re one of the 74% of people who likes dogs a lot, then spending time with one can truly improve your mood. Recent studies demonstrate that:



Therapy Dogs Can Improve Hormonal Function


Interacting with a dog can increase the amount of oxytocin in your bloodstream. Also known as the “love hormone,” oxytocin elicits the same kinds of positive feelings which naturally foster bonding between mothers and their babies. In addition to reducing stress, oxytocin promotes growth and healing.


Even the simple act of petting a dog reduces cortisol: the “stress hormone,” which commonly contributes to feelings of anxiety, depression and irritability. This phenomenon helps to explain why 84% of PTSD patients report a significant reduction in symptoms when paired with a service dog.


Therapy Dogs Can Reduce Blood Pressure


Hormones don’t just affect your mood. They also have an enormous impact on your blood pressure: oxytocin decreases it, while cortisol increases it. Evidence also suggests that dog ownership can decrease cholesterol. The precise hormonal interactions that link dog ownership to cholesterol reduction are not yet fully understood, though it is safe to presume that pet therapy can only help to promote better cardiovascular health.


Therapy Dogs Can Alleviate Mental Health Challenges


Anyone can benefit from pet therapy, but people who are managing mental health issues may stand even more to gain from healing alongside an affable labradoodle. Recent studies demonstrate that:


  • Dog-assisted therapy is effective for treating depression
  • Therapy dogs can help make symptoms of ADHD more manageable
  • Therapy dogs encourage people with autism to engage in social interaction
  • Dog-assisted therapy can improve mood and facilitate social interaction in Alzheimer’s patients


Acucare Physical Therapy: Therapy Dogs in Sioux Falls


Would you like all the benefits of pet therapy while you’re receiving orthopedic care in Sioux Falls, SD? Then we welcome you to contact our clinic today to schedule your initial consultation! Our resident therapy dogs Jody and Murphy were trained at Smoking Dakota Kennels before receiving certification by Therapy Dogs International, and they’re eager to help you recover more happily and healthily – even though they don’t know you yet!