How Pet Therapy Helps Cancer Patients

If you know someone who’s been diagnosed with cancer, you probably know how difficult the experience can be for both the patient and his or her loved ones. The feelings that accompany the patient throughout the cancer journey can be draining and harsh on mental health. Depression, helplessness, and stress are tough to experience, especially while undergoing cancer treatments. 

One of the most effective therapies that benefit the overall well-being of a person with cancer is animal-assisted therapy or pet therapy. This unique therapy uses the natural intimacy between humans and animals to provide relief for cancer patients, resulting in many positive effects such as an improved quality of life, increased socialization, a distraction from illness or pain, and improved mood. You’ve probably heard of therapy dogs or canine therapy, so how exactly does this type of therapy work? 

Pet Therapy Helps Decrease Stress and Improve Overall Mood

From initial diagnosis through treatment and even post-treatment, cancer patients often experience many negative feelings such as stress, anxiety, and depression. While not always an obvious choice, emotional support animals can often help reduce these negative feelings. Animal-assisted therapy provides companionship and comfort that helps to decrease stress and these other negative feelings. As a result, both the psychological and physical well-being of the patient improves. Cancer patients feel more confident and better equipped to cope with their illness, which can make the healing process easier.

Pet therapy for cancer patients doesn't stop at stress relief, it also helps improve overall mood. Therapy animals have been proven to boost serotonin levels which are associated with feelings of happiness and encourage positive thinking throughout the day. Providing your loved one with an opportunity to pet a therapy animal can help them feel happier during these trying times. All of these benefits aim to improve the overall well-being of people with cancer and decrease the discomfort associated with the treatment process.

Pet Therapy Helps Reduce Pain

It’s no question that the side effects of cancer treatment are often unbearable and even unmanageable at times. In addition to the treatment itself, cancer patients often suffer from chronic pain, and animal-assisted therapy has been proven to help reduce this pain.

Studies have shown that spending time with a pet can decrease the amount of pain felt by cancer patients as the simple act of petting an animal causes the body to release oxytocin, a chemical that causes feelings of calmness and relaxation. These feelings are often similar to those experienced during meditation.

Animal Companionship Helps Improve Sleep

The presence of a pet can influence the amount and quality of sleep cancer patients experience. A study conducted by Best et al. found that people with pets experience more hours of sound, restful sleep than those who did not have pets.

The presence of an animal during sleep increases the levels of serotonin in the body which facilitates sleep, especially that deep sleep we all crave. When sleeping next to a therapy dog or other service animal, patients have an increased sleep duration and sleep quality. The improved sleep quality can boost a cancer patient’s energy, enabling them to better combat fatigue throughout the day.

Pet Therapy Helps Improve Socialization

Having a companion animal around can also encourage socialization in patients who are affected by cancer. Spending time with therapy animals has been associated with feelings of happiness, which in turn benefits patients who are dealing with loneliness and depression due to their illness.

Studies have shown that having someone or something to lean on can help cancer patients feel better equipped to face life's challenges. Spending time with an animal has been proven to reduce feelings of hostility and sadness while increasing feelings of enjoyment that encourage positive thinking and a more confident outlook.

Animal-assisted therapy can also help cancer patients make new meaningful relationships with people and other animals because it allows them to interact and communicate.


Research shows great promise for the use of pet therapy to improve the lives of cancer patients. Cancer patients often feel isolated and lonely as a result of their diagnosis and treatments. Therapy animals can help break this feeling of isolation and provide emotional support as well as increased wellbeing and improved quality of life.

Between the treatments, medications, appointments, and the side effects, there’s so much involved with cancer treatment, and the costs of all of this should be the last concern. At Pawsitively for Pink, we aim to help alleviate the financial burden of patients with breast cancer; help us make a difference for underserved women with breast cancer.

Psychology of Smiling

Have you ever spent time thinking about one of the simplest emotional expressions? A smile is the universal sign of happiness, greeting, pleasure, recognition, and other positive emotions. An authentic smile is a natural human response to happiness or pleasure and is a great method of communication. It conveys a message of happiness, joy, and friendliness to others. This simple human behavior can have incredible benefits.

In this article, you'll be reading about the benefits of smiling on your mental and physical health, and both your social and work life.

Smiling Can Improve Your Mental Health

Smiling can help relieve many mild psychological problems. This small facial expression relaxes and relieves negative emotions such as tension, reduces stress, and improves general well-being. Recent studies have found that depressed people smile less often than their healthy counterparts as this simple action releases dopamine, serotonin, and other chemicals in the brain which help people feel happy. Hence, using those facial muscles to smile, has the power to relieve depression and stress - naturally.

Also, smiling helps increase self-esteem, affirm self-image, and improve personal relationships. One smile causes the brain to release endorphins, which is a natural drug that acts as an antidepressant. Furthermore, serotonin is released when smiling which is a neurotransmitter that helps to boost moods and improve the mental state. It can help decrease stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine which boost the morale of patients and enhance disease resistance.

Smiling Can Improve Your Physical Health

Smiling can help improve your physical health by positively affecting various body functions. It opens up the lungs by 7% and increases heart rate, oxygen flow, and blood pressure which is helpful in increasing physical activity levels. At Stanford University, researchers found that people who smiled often felt better than those who didn't smile as much. People who managed a smile on their face three times a day for a couple of minutes were found to be less tense and in a more relaxed mood.

A genuine smile automatically produces positive emotions, which in turn work to improve the functioning of multiple organs. In fact, smiling can help prevent heart attacks. An experiment conducted on 6,000 men showed that after 5 years 45% of participants who did not smile frequently had died, but only 19% of the participants who smiled frequently had died. Being happy is good for your health, smiling helps to boost the immune system and lower blood pressure

Smiling Improves Your Social and Work-Life

A warm smile can brighten up your face and make people like you instantly because smiling is a way of communicating friendliness and openness to others. A person who smiles is seen as warm, welcoming, and non-threatening by most other people. The majority of people tend to return a smile when they see one - which leads to more positive experiences for both parties involved as they feel happier. They do say that smiles are contagious!

Smiling has also been shown to improve productivity in the workplace. Studies show that smiling at staff members or colleagues helps increase their efficiency and satisfaction levels. Researchers have found that when managers smile more often in the workplace, their employees are more likely to be productive in their tasks because of this positive sentiment. You can also win deals or attract new customers if you're smiling as it shows that you're relaxed, confident, and connect with people easily.


A smile is the simplest way of communicating friendship, happiness, and pleasure to other people. Having a happy face has powerful psychological benefits that improve moods, relieve stress, and prevent heart attacks. A smile helps beat depression, improves your mental as well as physical health and makes meeting new people & networking easier. Smiling is a natural human response that automatically produces positive emotions which in turn work to improve the functioning of multiple organs.

If you want to bring a smile to others and yourself, let it be by helping breast cancer patients and survivors. You can do this by becoming involved with us here at Pawsitively 4 Pink by volunteering or even making a small donation.