It is becoming more and more common for nursing homes and medical care facilities to allow pet visitations. Studies have shown that patients benefit from the comfort an animal can provide; showing affection to these animals has been known to help people lower blood pressure, and the endorphins associated with the pleasure of animal companionship can reduce some pain symptoms. In nursing homes, live-in pets are sometimes permitted, though visitations are more common. In addition to health benefits, loneliness and psychological concerns have been known to improve when residents have the comfort of pets. Even with all these potential benefits, however, there are both pros and cons of pets in hospitals and nursing homes.
Health and Wellness
The primary concern for pets in facilities like these is health protocol. While the practice of allowing animals is increasingly common, health and safety changes are not always made to avoid possible health risks. It’s commonplace for dogs and cats, and some small animals like birds and rabbits to be brought into these care facilities. There are also less common animals, like reptiles. All of these pets can carry diseases that may wreak havoc on people with weak immune systems.
Hospitals are more likely to have strict guidelines to protect against the diseases and infections pets can carry. Nursing homes rules are often not as strict. Most have policies that designate animals must have an appropriate caregiver and all vaccinations, and no recently-ill animals may be admitted. However, being prepared means having hygiene preparation, procedures for injuries and related illnesses, and staff trained to deal with animals. These preparations are often missing.
Why Have the Risk?
The growing interest in having animals in nursing homes and other care facilities is a direct result of the growing belief that animals aid in mental and emotional support. Positive interactions between humans and animals make people feel good at the very least. For an ill person, a lonely person, or someone struggling with some combination of the two, a good relationship with a pet may provide comfort, and may even impact health. While the notion that happiness and hope can help a person get better, or live longer, isn’t scientific, many doctors and scientists agree that the power of the human mind and will may make a significant differences in how well a patient recovers. That is why the risk of having pets in hospitals and nursing homes seems worth it to many.
If you’re thinking of bringing your pet to a nursing home, or a health facility, first, make sure it’s allowed. Look into any health-related regulations. If there aren’t any and you’re concerned, you might consider suggesting some changes politely. And, of course, make sure your pet is in the best health and general condition. Bring him or her to us at Pet Vet Hospitals.