Denver Health started a pet therapy program in 2010, run entirely by volunteers and their pets.
There are 15 dogs available to visit with patients, both throughout the hospital and those visiting for outpatient services.
Therapy dogs are not the same as service dogs. Service dogs are primarily used for individuals with disabilities. Therapy dogs are trained to comfort patients.
Volunteer pet/owner teams lift the spirits and bring companionship to those who are away from home.
Studies on pet therapy have been shown to:
- Reduce stress, anxiety and pain
- Lower blood pressure
- Provide mental stimulation
- Decrease feelings of isolation
- Encourage communication
Patients are genuinely happy to see the dogs. These pets can bring joy and relaxation to the patients and their families when they are dealing with difficult medical situations and long hospital stays. For some, just looking at a dog makes them smile.