Scientific studies have demonstrated that therapy animals can bring a lot of positive outcomes for those who are suffering with physical or mental ailments. Past studies have shown dogs or other animals can ease anxiety and sadness, lower blood pressure and even reduce the amount of medications some patients need.
But it turns out there is more than meets the eye when it comes to therapy dogs visiting sick patients in the hospital.
Physicians at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore recently conducted a study after becoming suspicious that therapy dogs visiting patients with weakened immune systems may be doing more harm than good. Their suspicions proved to be on target as kids who spent more time with the dogs had a 6 times greater chance of coming away with superbug bacteria than kids who spent less time with the animals.
The researchers think the dogs were generally clean of MRSA when they first came to the hospital, but picked it up from patients or others while they were there.
But never fear. That does not mean the end of therapy dogs visiting the sick because the study also found that washing the dogs before visits and using special wipes while they are in the hospital took away the risk of spreading that bacteria.