By Stephanie Stahl

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — For some people, just the thought of visiting the dentist causes anxiety, but one dental practice in Cherry Hill has added a four-legged member to their team. Thursday is National Dog Day, and one dog is doing a great job at putting patients at ease.

Ten-year-old Parisa Halem doesn’t mind going to the dentist anymore now that she gets to visit with Leo.

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“I love him, he’s the best dog in the world,” Parisa said.

Leo, a specially trained therapy dog, is part of the team at Cherry Hill Dental Excellence.

“Nobody likes to go to the dentist,” Dr. Zahra Afsharzand said.

Afsharzand says the 2-year-old Cockapoo helps distract and relax their patients.

“It does really affect patients’ ability to tolerate the procedures better just because of the calmness and not being so, so nervous,” Afsharzand said.

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Research has shown dogs can help relieve anxiety and improve some medical conditions.

For Parisa, who’s a Type 1 Diabetic, being around Leo helps control her blood sugar that’s checked and controlled with a wearable device.

“It’s 104 right now, her sugar has done down,” Parisa’s mother said. “Leo has helped so much, not only to stabilize Parisa’s sugar but also emotionally.

Her mother says Leo helps Parisa feel connected and grounded after the recent diabetes diagnosis. She’s gotten close to him with a series of dental visits.

“It’s just something about him, he puts a smile on my face all the time,” Parisa said.

For the dental office, instead of patients dreading the needles and drilling, they have the option of being comfortable by a visit with Leo.

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“Everybody loves Leo. It’s been such a good experience and he is such a good influence on people and people bring him treats, bring him toys, and like we just want Leo to help out the patients, so it’s been a really good experience,” Afsharzand said.

Stephanie Stahl