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Complementary Medicine in Cancer Care: Adding a Therapy Dog to the Team


Animal-assisted therapy, including visits from certified therapy dogs, offer a valuable and often underutilized resource for addressing unmet needs in cancer patients. Prospective research studies have documented symptomatic benefits for reducing pain, psychological distress, and fatigue in a variety of patient populations, including cancer patients. Utilizing consistent policies minimizes patient risk and infection control concerns associated with animal visits.

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Correspondence to Dawn A. Marcus.

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Marcus, D.A. Complementary Medicine in Cancer Care: Adding a Therapy Dog to the Team. Curr Pain Headache Rep 16, 289–291 (2012).

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  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Anxiety
  • Clostridium difficile
  • Isolation
  • Loneliness
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  • Pain