During the pandemic, many have learned what some of us already knew: dogs are good for our mental and physical health. They kept us active and fit during lockdown and kept us company during times of social distancing.

The health benefits are not mere imagination: various studies have shown that dogs can prevent diabetes, lower blood pressure, reduce stress and improve the mental health of their owners. Their positive charisma works even in small doses, as therapy dogs prove again and again. And they can also be used in pain patients, as a new study has now shown.

Ten minutes of dog contact is enough to noticeably relieve pain

Just ten minutes in the company of a dog is enough to reduce pain in emergency room patients, as US researchers described in an article in the journal “PLOS One”.

200 patients rated their pain level on a scale of 1 to 10. The control group received no treatment measures for their pain, while other participants were allowed to spend ten minutes with a therapy dog. Thereafter, the pain was reassessed, with the result that those with dog contact found it to be less severe.

Dogs as medicine: The study authors see this as an option

The reason for this could be that pain often has a psychological component in addition to the physical one. Worry, fear and the uncomfortable atmosphere of an emergency room can increase the sensation, psychologist Michelle Gagnon, who was not involved in the study, told GLM. “The things and positive emotions that we get from pets can have an impact on the acute pain,” she explained.

While therapy dogs are already used in hospitals, they are rarely used in a medical context and are more often used in a psychological one. Study co-author Colleen Dell hopes this could change with her and other studies. The question is no longer whether dogs have a medical benefit, but rather how this can be used.

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