The Benefits of Service Dogs in Cancer Recovery
Service dogs can provide patients during and after radiation or chemotherapy with social, physical, and emotional support during cancer recovery. Spending time with a four-legged companion — petting their fur, walking, and enjoying loyal companionship — has been proven to spark joy, encourage socialization, and improve mental health in cancer patients, according to recent studies. More than that, dogs can also perform daily tasks for those with limited mobility. By providing your dog with the necessary love and care, you can foster a special bond that helps you through this trying time.
Provides emotional support
Cancer recovery can take its toll mentally and emotionally. Looking after a dog can ease anxiety and lift mood, as well as provide a welcome distraction for patients (who may be feeling depressed, isolated, or in pain). Dogs are also great listeners. Many patients appreciate having someone to talk to freely without judgement, or just to sit with in comfortable silence.
Boosts physical health
Your dog will need a lot of exercise, so you’ll always have a reason to go out and get some fresh air and exercise each day. The benefits of regularly exercising with your dog are many: improved mood, fitness, and heart health. Even the act of just petting a dog has been proven to lower blood pressure and release feel-good endorphins.
Moreover, service dogs are trained to help with tasks, allowing you to rest and reserve energy. Dogs can retrieve items, assist walking, open doors, turn lights on/off, and bark for help, among other things. Dogs are particularly beneficial for patients with severe disabilities.
Creating the right environment for your dog
Your dog needs a safe and comfy home just as much as you do. Create a warm, clean, and quiet space with good-quality bedding for your dog to rest and sleep. He will also need to be let out regularly to relieve himself, so you should keep your garden safe for dogs. Likewise, your home should be free from health and safety hazards; keep cleaning products and dangerous tools out of their reach. In a calm, safe, and loving environment, your dog will be better able to provide you with the support you need.
Service or therapy dogs can improve quality of life and encourage independence and optimism in cancer patients. If you’re interested in getting a service dog, consult your medical team. In most cases, a service of therapy dog is a great option for patients needing extra support through recovery.