toronto dog puppy prescription

Toronto doctor legitimately prescribes patient a real-life puppy

We all know hanging out with/petting dogs greatly improves your mood and has many health benefits, like lowered blood pressure, but did you know a Toronto doctor can actually prescribe you one?

Yes, a Toronto doctor has recommended her patient get a furry friend, going as far as filing out a prescription calling for a "puppy of choice" with instructions to "walk twice daily and lots of love."

Family physician Dr. Iris Gorfinkel shared the puppy dog prescription to Twitter, and the reactions continue to pour in, with nearly 700k views. 

Speaking with blogTO, Dr. Gorfinkel confirms that, yes, this is a legitimate prescription that she signed off on.

The white gap on the photo of the prescription covers the patient's name. Due to patient-doctor confidentiality, Dr. Gorfinkel couldn't provide the exact reasoning for this prescription but said that having a pet can help with many ailments and conditions. 

She lists loneliness, mental or physical health and dementia as areas where having a puppy can improve a patient's life, all of which have been backed up by concrete evidence.

As to why her tweet went viral, she said there are so many instances where a puppy can improve a person's life, many people who viewed the tweet easily related to the idea of needing a pup-scription.

"It's open to so many interpretations - I think it a struck a chord, when people see that prescription they are looking at a mirror, they fill it in for their story of why it might work for them," she said.

Dogs are powerful creatures and love their owners unconditionally, no matter the day or situation - it's something Dr. Gorfinkel agrees is incredibly important.

Whether it be the companionship, the physical aspect of daily walking or just the dog's calming presence, there are so many ways dogs can improve somebody's life.

"I wish I could snap my fingers and write a prescription for love; pet love is unconditional. There's something to be said to be living with another living thing that loves you no matter what," she said.

Of course, prescribing a dog isn't a fit for everybody (financial costs, allergies), and insurance probably wouldn't cover the price of dog food, but there are wide swaths of documentation stating how powerful the connection can be - Dr. Gorfinkel further explores this connection in her CBC column.

"It is under-prescribed and I hope more clinicians consider it more. It's not for everybody, but generally speaking, it works," she concluded.

Lead photo by

Dr. Iris Gorfinkel, M.D.

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