WVU Health Report: Pet Therapy - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

WVU Health Report: Pet Therapy

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MORGANTOWN, WV -

We know our pets make us happier, but research shows they can make us healthier too. That's why service animals are being used more in hospitals and nursing homes.

Princess Danger is a pet therapy dog at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. She helps patients recover or better cope with health problems by simply providing comfort and companionship. Oncologist Dr. Brendan Curley is her handler. He said that patients can be anxious and nervous. "It's a nice distraction where you know you can talk about your own dogs you can talk about you know the therapy dog in the room and you know it's nice it's a new visitor who isn't someone there to talk about your health condition," said Dr. Curley

Studies have shown that pet therapy can be helpful for mental health patients, nursing home residents, chemotherapy patients, and even patients in the ICU on ventilators, according to Dr. Rolly Sullivan, with WVU's School of Medicine.

All therapy animals are specially trained and must meet strict immunization standards. "The dogs and the animals and the handlers are all safe, they're well trained and they are there to provide a service to the patient and that's who is going to come first," said Dr. Curley. If there is an instance where the dog or the handler are not comfortable with the situation, they are then removed and separated.