Hospice: the entire goal is to provide comfort and care, and to reach that end, many facilities have added pet therapy to their line of services to help patients. After all, pets have a history of showing love to the people in their lives, and that means creating a powerful bond that’s important even when you’re admitted to a hospice facility. It’s a practice that dates back to the 1800s when Florence Nightingale observed patients with reduced levels of anxiety and stress after they were offered the companionship of small animals. Eventually, Boris Levinson brought the idea to mainstream medicine, and today, it’s evolved into something far greater. While hospice isn’t the only medical setting where pet therapy is used, it’s an essential one.
Exploring the Benefits
Why do we use pet therapy? There are actually many reasons it’s beneficial for our patients. It begins at an emotional level. Just as Florence Nightingale observed, the mere presence of an animal is enough to calm a patient. Studies have found therapy dogs, or any animal for that matter, can reduce a patient’s blood pressure and even help them deal with pain in some cases. Their bodies physically relax when the animal enters the room, and that’s quite comforting for most.
In addition to the physical and emotional benefits, patients also gain some social benefits from our pet therapy program. The facility dogs help create a safe space for patients, caregivers, and family members to have conversations they might not otherwise have, and communication at this point is nothing short of essential.
Hospice pet therapy is much more than a visit from our facility dog. Instead, it’s a chance to bring a bit of joy to the lives of our patients, even when they’re struggling the most.