How therapy dogs improve patient care and outcomes

Could a chance to pet a pup play a role in a patient’s recovery? People who work with therapy dogs believe so. Therapy dogs visit hospital settings with the goal of boosting patient morale and putting a smile on the faces of people going through challenging medical crises. Here is a look at the role therapy dogs are playing in health care .

What is a therapy dog?

Therapy dogs visit hospitals in an effort to cheer up patients and their families while they are receiving care. They also visit nursing homes, schools and other settings in which people may be lonely or under a significant amount of stress.

It is important to note that therapy dogs are not the same as service dogs, and they cannot perform assistive tasks, like guiding patients with vision difficulties. Likewise, therapy dogs don’t stay with one person as service dogs do.

Are therapy dogs trained?

The American Kennel Club (AKC) offers an official training program for therapy dogs. Dogs that receive this certification have completed a certain number of visits with a therapy dog organization recognized by the AKC. However, it is up to the organization that invites therapy dogs in to set their own standards and decide if they will require any kind of training before dogs can visit.

Training for therapy dogs isn’t just for patient safety. Handlers must also ensure that the dogs are not overstressed by patient visits and that they enjoy meeting so many new people.

Where can therapy dogs be used in the hospital?

There are multiple ways therapy dogs can make an impact in the hospital setting. They can:

  • Visit patients undergoing cancer care
  • Visit children receiving inpatient care
  • Visit family members in the waiting room
  • Visit patients recovering from orthopedic surgery

At MountainView Hospital, our compassionate team is committed to providing the best possible patient experience every day. Experience the difference of our quality care for yourself by calling (702) 962-5021 to get a referral to one of our physicians.