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Dogs: A nursing intervention?

Posted

Specializes in Mental Health Nursing.

So one of my co-workers who's a psychiatrist (very overly enthusiastic guy), is excited about the idea of implementing trained dogs as treatment to help patients with mood problems. Apparently, petting a dog releases hormones like oxytocin. Of course this is considered research, but he's very serious about conducting it.

What do you think of man's best friend as an eventual nursing intervention??

Lucky you to have an enthusiastic doc... also helpful in phobias and so many other conditions.You might want to look up Partners which used to be the Delta Society. The company MARS, I believe,is having a grant on research in this area...just don't have the link.

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

Dogs are NOT my best friend. Just FYI - I have a TRUE phobia for dogs! (Funny considering your unit is psych!)

I mean I'm talking 'fight or flight syndrome'. Pupils dilating, nasal flaring, tachycardia, tachypnea, cold & clammy diaphoresis. We are talking major F-E-A-R.

Been frightened of dogs ever since I was very little. My family lived with my grandparents for a while and Grandmom had a mutt dog, Pookie. Well, this 2 y/o must have pulled Pookie's tail or something and Pookie got nasty with me. (Pookie also got nasty with my cousin, Jack.)

To make a long story short - personally, I don't think I could ever work at a facility with a dog. I have problems when Activities bring in dogs to the NH for the residents' Pet Day. One time, I stopped an interview when I learned there was a facility pet dog. I 'froze' in the DON's office and gave her a scare!

There could be similar problems with pts. People are very insensitive and disbelieving concerning dog phobias. As a result, I tell folk a have a serious allergy - they'll respect that. Hence, it would be necessary to learn if there were allergies also for anyone involved.

I know the research promotes pet therapy, but if that dog were to just get loose and benignly romp around, you'd be calling 911 for me.

As fearful as I am of dogs, I have a girlfriend who is as fearful of cats (a disturbed neighborhood child was twirling a cat by its tail and he let it fly loose. It landed on my girlfriend).

If there were a way to address phobias/allergies with staff & pts, it could work. And I know so many staff love Pet Day!!! But not me.

PS - Just read the response by PP. NO amount of desensitizing therapy would ever help me. Have never had any desire to overcome my phobia as it has NOT been a major impediment to my lifestyle. And that has been quite a few years for me.

Edited by amoLucia
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CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

I think it would be wonderful as long as residents can choose whether to opt in or not.

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

PS - Just read the response by PP. NO amount of desensitizing therapy would ever help me. Have never had any desire to overcome my phobia as it has NOT been a major impediment to my lifestyle. And that has been quite a few years for me.

How do you know it wouldn't be helpful? Your long capital letter riddled post seems to me that there is significant distress surrounding this topic and stopping an interview because a dog was present sounds like an impediment. I'd consider investigating some sort of therapy to possibly ease this phobia but if you are fine thats cool also.

OP I also think it is a great idea for patients who are interested but in my parts we call it Pet Therapy. Not a novel intervention. :)

brownbook

Has 35 years experience.

I think it sounds wonderful but I can barely imagine the tons of red tape someone would have to go through to get such a program up and running.

I saw a TV show/documentary where inmates got rescued shelter dogs to care for while in prison. It is wonderful to watch and brings a tear to the eye.

Therapy dogs are becoming more common.

OP I also think it is a great idea for patients who are interested but in my parts we call it Pet Therapy. Not a novel intervention. :)

I agree -- pet therapy has been around for a long time. I've worked in a number of settings over the years that have utilized pet therapy. It's been v. popular.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 43 years experience.

I work in a children's hospital. We allow dogs at the bedside on a regular basis through our "Pet Therapy Program." Not just any dog is qualified. Dogs are specially trained and selected for this duty -- and are bathed just before coming to the hospital. Patients eligible for the pet therapy have a sign on their door.

I've heard of long term care facilities having pet therapy programs, as well. There are established guidelines, etc. for doing it.

bsyrn, ASN, RN

Specializes in Peds, School Nurse, clinical instructor. Has 21 years experience.

I think it's a great idea! They had dogs at the hospital where my sister had surgery, they just visited people in the waiting rooms. It helped a lot and was very therapeutic :)

prmenrs, RN

Specializes in NICU, Infection Control. Has 42 years experience.

If you are going to initiate this type of therapy, you need to get certified therapy dogs. Also, establish policies to ensure the dogs are healthy, flea-free, and someone is controlling the dog @ all times. On a harness/leash. The dog should get bathed prior to visiting.

Dogs (or cats, or horses!) are great, not all dogs are meant to be therapy animals. They are wonderful and provide support for patients and families, but it's important to put some common sense guidelines before the place goes to the dogs. (sorry)

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi. Has 10 years experience.

I think it sounds wonderful but I can barely imagine the tons of red tape someone would have to go through to get such a program up and running.

I saw a TV show/documentary where inmates got rescued shelter dogs to care for while in prison. It is wonderful to watch and brings a tear to the eye.

Therapy dogs are becoming more common.

Pediatric hospitals do it all the time. The dogs are certified pet therapy dogs- they go through training and have to have the right temperament to become certified. We had a set pet therapy day when I worked in a pediatric hospital. We were also known to sneak dogs in from home for dying children from time to time.

greenbeanio

Specializes in mental health. Has 3 years experience.

We have Pet Therapy on our unit once every two weeks, and we wish we could have it every day - the patients love it. If a patient is phobic or allergic we cancel Pet Therapy for the duration of the patient's stay, unless the pt says its okay.

Angeljho, MSN, NP

Specializes in Mental Health Nursing.

I definitely learned a lot from this thread about pet therapy. And I'm glad to see its something that's really effective. Thanks everyone.