There are many cases in Italy (and in the world) of people who rely on pet therapy to promote the healing process. This discipline provides the presence of animals, mainly dogs, to carry out physiotherapy processes or treatments and management of particular psycho-emotional pathologies.
Our four-legged friends have a sensitivity that goes beyond the limits of human understanding, as their affection and devotion are truly unexpected! The dog's total devotion to its owner must be investigated in its origin, as he elects the pack leader and follows him in all respects. We become real leaders for them. From these notions, we can understand how powerful the love that our four-legged friends have for us. Therefore, they have a great healing potential for pet therapy.
It is incredible how much affection dogs can give us during illnesses. This is the case of patients admitted to the oncology department of the Massa Carrara hospital. In this place, the first pet therapy project in Italy was activated, where dogs are in contact with patients at particular times of the day. This prodigious project is called "A Paw to Therapies”. It requires dogs with disinfected fur and with a complete certificate to accompany patients for a few hours during the chemotherapy session.
The results are surprising, many people who are alone during therapy sessions find it extremely pleasant all of a sudden. Labradors, cubs and delightful puppies snuggle at the patients' feet and keep them company for the entire duration of the therapeutic session. The benefits translate into a greater chance of recovery for patients, as the good mood that dogs spread helps patients face the disease with more serenity and courage.
The head of the structure, Dr. Mambrini, is convinced that alternative therapies can be very successful for the healing process or, at least, make it happier and less harsh. To this end, he organizes concerts, including famous artists, art shows, singing and theater sessions and always hopes to be able to subject patients to chemotherapy in the open air, taking advantage of the hospital's green spaces.
Regarding the introduction of four-legged friends, the head physician said "We started with six other Italian hospitals with the Day Hospital department: we followed 90 cancer patients in contact with dogs for six months and compared them with 90 other patients without pet therapy ".
Regarding the results and benefits for patients, the luminary says: “We measured the vital signs of pressure, pulse and temperature. The psychological ones of apprehension, anxiety and depression. Finally, also the symptoms of nausea, vomiting and pain. The patients of the pet therapy had vomited less, had regained their natural face colour and forgot depression. Others even returned at the end of chemo session to meet the dogs again. The significant scientific finding was the increase in the partial pressure of oxygen in the blood. In a department where we always talk about the past, seeing people talking about the future is wonderful. The positivity you breathe is a paradise for everyone ".
Finally, we can witness a beautiful all-Italian experience, as this therapy is still not very well known around the world. Beyond the enormous improvements that pet therapy brings to patients, we must never forget its positive effect on mood, which very often represents the key to victory against tremendous and apparently invincible diseases.