Some health practitioners recommend pets over pills

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Pets may be as effective as medications in some patientsDoctors, nurses and medical researchers are increasingly finding that the best prescription for some illnesses in older adults may be a dog. New studies have found that the presence of pets can help patients, especially those recovering from joint replacement surgery, minimize medication.

This development has resulted in a new sector of the pet industry, the Times of India reports. Julia Havey and Frances Vlasses have entered a fringe business of the healthcare industry by raising puppies to become assistance dogs.

"Evidence suggests that animal-assisted therapy (AAT) can have a positive effect on a patient’s psycho-social, emotional and physical well being," Julia Havey, a senior systems analyst at Loyola University Health Systems, told the news source.

She added, "Data further support the benefits and build a case for expanding the use of pet therapy in recovery."

Canine Companions for Independence, the nonprofit organization Havey and Vlasses founded, provides specially trained dogs to people with physical and developmental disabilities for free.

Focused on advancing the new AAT field, the National Institutes of Health have begun accepting proposals for studies which investigate how interactions between humans and animals affect development, especially in patients with autism.

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