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Pets Can Help People Recover From Illness

Do you have a pet? Dogs, cats and other pets can do so much for humans, not just providing company and love. Apart from being good company and ensuring we get out to exercise if only to give them a walk, recent research has shown that a much loved pet can greatly help with a patient’s recovery.  Some hospitals in America are allowing pets in to hospital rooms to see their owners once a doctor has approved it and certain conditions are met.

Although there are risks of an animal transmitting an infection or perhaps being alarmed by a doctor or nurse and reacting in an unfriendly way, many hospitals have decided that the benefits far outweigh the risks. Being removed from a loved pet seems to increase anxiety as the patient often worries if their pet is being looked after well and if it misses them.  Benefits for the patients include less stress, increased comfort, a strong willingness to get well and get home, more relaxed and more receptive to treatment.  Their contentment from having seen their pet is well and healthy seems to generate a feeling of wellness and relief.

Rules include dogs being kept on a lead and cats being transported to the room in a carrier, that they keep to the patient’s room and the main corridors, that they have a vet’s cert to show their vaccinations are up to date and they are healthy and that they have been groomed within the last two days. If the patient shares a room, the other occupants have to agree before a pet is admitted.

These hospitals are in the minority but the fact that it is being researched and more doctors are being more amenable to it shows that it will be on the increase.

Do you think it is a good idea? Of course, some nursing homes now permit pets too if the resident has a single room and of course, the pet is well behaved, groomed and healthy. Being able to stay in one’s own home with a pet for company if living on one’s own, that is what most people want. As stated in one of our recent articles, careful consideration needs to be given to what is the most suitable pet for an older person. Get it right and the benefits can be significant when one considers that the presence of a pet can aid recovery.  Recent research also shows that people who exercise on a regular basis can live for five years longer, it is just as important as not smoking. Having to walk a pet means that there are no excuses, both the person and the animal get their exercise. However, if a pet is inappropriate in any way, for example, too boisteros, it can add to stress and even cause injury to an older person.

What pet do you think is most suitable to older people?

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