Therapy dogs help out at funeral homes

More and more funeral homes are bringing in canine helpers.

National Funeral Directors Association spokeswoman Jessica Koth said she’s seeing a trend of funeral homes using therapy dogs. The amount of pups at funeral homes has grown in the last few years, she said.

“The families love it,” Koth told “Today.” “An animal changes the mood of the room.”

The association doesn’t track therapy dogs in funeral homes, but it did commission a survey that showed people want them around. More than half of respondents said they would be interested in having a therapy dog at a funeral or memorial service.

Therapy dogs are a soothing presence for mourners, New Orleans-based psychologist Marilyn Mendoza told “Today.”

Mendoza, who specializes in grief, said petting the dogs increases serotonin and dopamine levels, which can boost mood, lower stress and improve blood pressure.

“It has so many benefits — I just think it’s a wonderful thing,” Mendoza said. “It’s particularly good for kids. They’re more likely to talk to those animals than they are to the adults.”