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Pet therapy can aid in a caregiver's daily routine. Senior living homes were the first to embrace "pet therapy" into their environment.  The smiles and tail wagging fun that animals provide to every age can not be measured. From heart attack to Alzheimer's patients, research shows signs of improvement in patients' conditions with pet therapy.  

When incorporating pet therapy into your caregiving routines, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1) Make sure each pet is screened by an outside agency specializing in evaluating animals to be part of pet therapy programs in healthcare settings.

2) Be aware of the patient's initial reaction when bringing an animal into the environment. Some patients will immediately smile upon a pet entering the room.

3) Never continue introduction of a pet if patient shows signs of stress or discomfort.

4) Ask the patients to reach their hands to the pet's face first so that the pet can smell the back of their hand.

5) Allow patients to visit with animals upon request.

Pets offer comfort and are proven to reduce stress, with people with pets tending to live longer than those who do not. But it is important to consider the patient's feelings towards cats vs. dogs, small vs. large. When patients are happy about their daily routines including pet therapies, it is expected that these changes will have a positive impact on their lives. 

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