Our veterinarians and veterinary support staff share a deep love for animals, and if you’re reading this, we’re guessing that you feel the same. Our pets bring so much love, joy, affection and humor to our lives, it probably comes as no surprise that the human-animal bond may be deeply intertwined with our health, well-being and, possibly, our survival as a species.
What is the Human-Animal Bond?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) the human- animal bond is defined as, “…a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals”. Indeed, humans have benefitted from this unique connection for thousands of years. Animals were so essential to the daily lives of early humans that there is evidence we may not have survived or thrived without them.
Do people routinely tell you how wonderful your dog is? If you are used to hearing “You have the best dog in the world!”, and you’re interested in sharing your dog with others who may benefit from your dog’s sweetness, perhaps you should consider therapy dog training! After all, what better way to spread the happiness and comfort that your dog brings than taking your sweet pup into a hospital or to a senior center where there are people who would appreciate a visit from a special four-legged companion?
Anyone who owns a dog knows how much this special bond adds to their quality of life, and there’s science to back it up. Recently, therapy dogs have been recognized by the scientific community for the health and healing benefits that they offer. Studies show that simply petting a dog stimulates the release of “feel good” neurochemicals, and contributes to lowered blood pressure, less depression, and an overall reduction in stress. There are numerous ways that therapy dogs can provide support, companionship, hope, and other health benefits to help people heal from both physical and psychological ailments.
What is a Therapy Dog?
Unlike a service dog, which is specifically trained to provide a set of services for an individual with specific needs, therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort and companionship for individuals who are in an institutionalized setting, such as a hospital or nursing home. Over the past several years, therapy dogs have become more common in other public places where people often need some cheering-up by a visit with a sweet and friendly canine.
Some examples of the amazing ways therapy dogs touch the lives of those they come into contact with include:
- Elevating the mood of patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
- Reducing anxious feelings in airports, schools, and other settings.
- Providing social and emotional support to individuals with a variety of ailments.
- Reducing the stress and anxiety that often accompany physical and mental disorders.
Therapy Dog Credentials
A dog of any breed or age can become a therapy dog, provided they have the right personality traits, are well trained, and consistently and reliably demonstrate exemplary behavior. Therapy dogs should be:
- Reliably friendly towards strangers
- Well-socialized around children and adults
- Highly responsive to basic obedience commands
- Highly adaptable to new environments, noise, smells, and other novel stimuli
Most therapy dog organizations also require that dogs be in excellent health, fully vaccinated and undergo routine physical examinations with their veterinarian. They must also be clean and well-groomed at the time of their visits.
If you think your dog has what it takes to become a therapy dog, your team at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center has some suggestions on how to get started.
Since there’s a lot more to becoming a therapy dog than just knowing that you have a great dog, it’s important to understand the requirements and steps involved. Now comes the serious preparation and team training, as it’s not just your dog entering into a hospital, nursing home, library, or school – you’ll be there, too – so you both need to be a well-functioning team.
- The first step for most therapy dog training protocols is for the dog to have gone through a basic obedience training class and graduated with flying colors.
- Next, comes taking and passing the AKC Good Citizen Program, and lots of practice to make sure your dog has mastered its obedience skills in a variety of public settings and other real-life situations.
- Step three involves either enrolling in a therapy dog training course or a dedicated home training program. A therapy dog should be extremely responsive to its handler, and be able to stay calm and happy despite loud noises, abrupt movement, medical or other equipment, the attention of strangers, and any other distraction that may occur.
- In order to become an animal-assisted therapy team, you and your dog must successfully pass a final evaluation, be certified, and registered with a national therapy dog organization.
Finally, remember that our goal is to help your pet have a healthy and long life with you, so don’t forget the wellness examinations, vaccinations, and parasite prevention! As always, don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions and concerns regarding your pet’s well-being.
For dogs that love the water, going for a swim on a hot day is a real treat and one of the best parts of summer! However, finding a safe place for your pooch to splash around in is another issue entirely. Should your dog swim in a chlorinated pool? What about a local lake or river? Is it safer to just fill up a kiddie pool in the backyard?
At Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center, we want pets to get plenty of exercise and bonding time with their owners. With careful observation, appropriate safety measures, and a little common sense, you might find swimming to be an enjoyable activity for you and your furry pal!Continue…
Cats are clean by nature. In fact, it can sometimes seem that your cat spends half its time washing its face and ears, smoothing down fur, cleaning out paw pads, and generally keeping him or herself beautiful.
Regardless of how well your cat takes care of itself, most cats can benefit from a little help. Home cat grooming can help you keep a close eye on your cat’s haircoat, skin, and nails, as well as decrease hairballs by removing loose fur. It can also help deepen the bond you share with your feline companion. Finally, home grooming can help ward off that dreaded visit (by your cat) to the groomer to correct matting and other problems that can result when regular maintenance needs are not addressed.Continue…
Ringing in the New Year with a list of ways we’d like to improve our lives is a time-honored tradition. Whether it’s eating healthier, exercising more, or quitting a bad habit, there are endless ways to start 2019 off on the right foot. Pets can also benefit from lifestyle tweaks aimed at enhancing health and happiness. That’s why we’ve identified some New Year’s resolutions for pets that can help you both live your best and happiest lives together.Continue…
It’s hard to believe that a new year is already upon us! As we reflect on the many valuable lessons and special moments of 2018, we’re reminded that none of it would be possible without our beloved patients and clients. Serving Denver area pets and their families is a privilege, and we’re so grateful for the relationships we’ve formed, both old and new.
Our monthly pet care blog is part of our ongoing service to you, and we’re thrilled that so many have been reading and enjoying it. Without further ado, we’re proud to present our top 10 most popular pet care blogs of 2018!Continue…
The season of sharing and gratitude is upon us, and here at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center, we’re filled with the holiday spirit. We’re grateful for all of the friendships we’ve developed this past year and for the many enjoyable moments we’ve had caring for your special companions!
Whether your pet comes to see us for medical care, boarding, grooming, or obedience training, we are grateful for the trust that you place in us to provide the care your pet needs. We love helping pets have better lives, and our interaction and experiences with them make our days purposeful and rewarding. It is also wonderful to share in the commitment you have for the lifelong health and well-being of your pets.
At Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center, we work diligently throughout the year to exceed the standards of our accreditation with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), as well as stay up-to-date on the latest research and techniques. Our staff members have all chosen this profession because of their love for companion animals so, through good times and bad you can count on us to be here for you and your pet. And, as always, we appreciate your feedback when it comes to your pet’s care and your experiences with us at our facility.
As you and your furry friends share in the holiday festivities or snuggle in to watch your favorite holiday movies, please know we appreciate you and wish you a safe, happy holiday season and a “pawsitively pawsome” new year!
For many prospective pet owners who visit a shelter or rescue, finding a puppy or kitten is often what is on the agenda. Fewer people, however, actively seek-out older animals, which is why older pets tend to be the last to get adopted and, in many cases, are never adopted.
Many senior pets will spend their golden years languishing in a shelter – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Older dogs and cats still have much to offer in the way of companionship, love and enjoyment. November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and we can’t think of a better time to discuss the many advantages of sharing life with a senior pet!Continue…
Sharing your life with a pet can bring great joy and fulfillment. And, it’s exciting to think about bringing home that cute cat or adorable dog. But before diving in, it’s important (and smart!) to think about and consider your own lifestyle, and how a certain pet breed or species may be a better choice for you.
Each type of pet requires different housing, exercise, feeding, grooming, veterinary care and demands on your time. Pets also have their own personalities and energy levels, so a good personality fit, along with activity needs that match your own, should be considered as well. We at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center are here to help you explore the questions that will prepare you to choose the right pet for the way you live. And, with Adopt a Shelter Pet Month in full swing, the timing couldn’t be better for this topic! Continue…
There’s something special about dogs. Perhaps it’s their unwavering loyalty and devotion or their unique ability to read our emotions and body language. Maybe it’s the way they inspire joy in our lives every single day. Whatever the case, the bond between human and canine is awe-inspiring.
When most of us look at our dogs, we only see their inner light, and this is never more apparent than with deaf dogs. Unfortunately, deaf dog myths abound in our culture, but in reality, dogs of any ability level can lead happy, productive lives. At Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center, we’ve set out to dispel the top 5 deaf dog myths and to show our readers what these often misunderstood pets can do. Continue…