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Alternative Cancer Therapy – Pet Therapy

by Mathew Marshall
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Alternative Cancer Therapy – Pet Therapy

Most of us love our pets.  They can bring us great joy and comfort when we are well but they can be especially helpful when we are sick.  Many pets seem to have a sixth sense and know when someone is hurting or having a difficult time.  It therefore makes a lot of sense that pet therapy can be especially helpful for many people are suffering from some form of cancer.

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So pet therapy, also called Animal-assisted therapy (AAT), is an alternative cancer treatment which can really help the patient to feel better both physically and mentally.  It is a type of treatment which is readily accepted by the medical community because it can really help to boost a patient’s physical well-being and emotional state.  Animals which are most commonly used are dogs and cats although dolphins, horses or miniature pigs have had success as well.

The treatment is not intended to be a substitute for primary cancer treatments but can provide great benefits to those people who are suffering not only from the physical and emotional effects of the disease itself but from therapy like chemotherapy as well as the aftereffects of surgery.


Cancer sufferers often have a great of stress and even depression.  Since some patients may not have loved ones who are always available to stay with the patient and provide emotional support, the hospital may arrange for a dog or cat to visit and comfort the patient especially following surgery or treatment.

A dog, cat or other animal can be there for the cancer patient to express pure love.  Patients respond very positively to this.  As a matter of fact there was a study in 2007 which found that pet therapy was of significant benefit in reducing depression in patients who were undergoing chemotherapy.

Many of the animals used in pet therapy are specially trained and are especially gentle and sensitive.  It is interesting to note that pet therapy has been shown to be of benefit in improving the physical health of cancer patients.  These animals can reduce the anxiety and stress and enable the patient to better focus on getting well.

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This kind of therapy is also very beneficial during the recuperation phase of cancer treatments.  The dog or cat may be of subtle encouragement to get the patient to do the things he needs to do like walk, eat or exercise.

It is unfortunate but pain is an all too common factor in many kinds of cancer and can result from surgery and treatment as well.  Pet therapy has been of great benefit in helping patients to reduce their perception of pain. When they can focus on other things, their perception of pain is reduced.  Many cases have been documented where patients were able to significantly reduce their reliance on pain killers.

So it is very true that in general we really love our pets and our pets love us right back.  But for many cancer sufferers this love creates a special magic and helps these patients to reduce their pain and discomfort and get back on the road to recovery.

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