Underdog - the super-beagle who saves his town from bad guys with barely a growl - may be a protracted joke (he first appeared in the 1960s and made a movie as recently as 2007), but a real-life dog actually can rescue you from painful situations, even immediately after joint-replacement surgery!
New info reveals that a daily five- to 15-minute visit from a pooch trained in animal-assisted therapy slashes folks' need for oral pain meds (oxycodone, etc.) by 28 percent, and that might mean less trouble with side effects like constipation and less dependence on these sometimes-addicting drugs.
But is it sanitary to have a dog in your room when you're recovering from major surgery?
The organizations that work with hospitals to bring in healing hounds should follow strict guidelines to make sure dogs are free of communicable diseases (psittacosis, salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis, campylobacteriosis and giardiasis) and that both pooches and their handlers know how to behave in often-tense recovery situations.
So before you let a therapy dog into your hospital room, check with the person who runs the program to make sure the facility is following all the guidelines for therapy dogs, including that they are not from a shelter or rescue; have been in a home for at least six months; and are frequently screened for health issues.
Also, make sure there's a supervising vet working with the program and that your doctor signs off on having a dog visit with you.
Then maybe you'll pet a pup instead of popping a pill!
© 2014 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
© King Features Syndicate