Pets Visit Patients in This Hospital

Instead of being a threat to the health of their owners, allowing pets in hospitals to visit these patients gives them a much needed boost of energy and optimism.
Pets Visit Patients in This Hospital
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 09 October, 2022

Pets form an essential part of our lives and our hearts. For this reason, in Juravinski Hospital, in Ontario, Canada, not only friends and family but also pets can visit patients.

Far from spreading bacteria and threatening the patient’s health, visiting pets lift the owners’ spirits. Their visits also help their humans’ immune systems improve.

Before coming into the hospital to visit patients, all pets must receive a bath. Besides, they have to go through a disinfection process. There are also formal guidelines in order to keep pet visits under control.

Due to these and other related efforts, many inpatients have the opportunity to cheer up at the sight of their cats or dogs.

Today, we want to talk to you more about this interesting initiative.

In Juravinski Hospital, Pets Visit Patients

The Companion Pet Visitation Program was created not long ago. It has its roots in a sad but touching story.

Donna Jenkins had to face the early death of her 25-year-old nephew to lymphoma. Before dying, the young man asked if he could see his dog. He made his aunt promise she would do everything she could so that the rest of the patients could see their pets while they were staying in the hospital.

He said that few things can bring as much happiness as being able to embrace these close friends.

This is how the center came to create a service supporting patients and family members who want to arrange a pet visit.

At some hospitals, pets visit patients.

The Miracles Due to This Initiative

The charity organization Zachary’s Paws for Healing finances this project. This foundation bears the name of the director’s nephew who passed away from cancer. This is where family members can get all the information and assistance they need to arrange a visit.

Sometimes, patients require hospitalization for many days. In this case, depression significantly impacts their recovery.

Something as simple as getting to see their dogs or cats has immediate beneficial effects on them. A visit from their pets boosts their endorphins and regulates their breathing. Equally important is that it speeds their recovery.

Another way pet therapy helps patients is in the area of oncology. Cancer patients undergo chemotherapy, as we all know. If they have their pets at their feet or on theirs laps to offer encouragement, then they make it through the difficult treatments with more calm and peace than they would otherwise.

Pet Preparation for a Visit

family members visiting a patient

Most hospitals don’t allow pets. One of the reasons for this rule is that they could potentially carry bacteria or other diseases.

Those in charge at Juravanski Hospital came to the following conclusions:

  • Pets pose the same threats when they visit patients as visiting family members do.
  • To sufficiently control the bacteria, the pet’s coat must be washed and properly disinfected before being allowed into the hospital.
  • Animals must be on a leash to control their movements.
  • Pets can only visit their humans. Therefore, there can’t be physical contact between dogs or cats and any patients other than their owners.
  • Both a patient’s family member and a social worker have to accompany any pet entering the hospital to control the situation and the pet’s movement. Since there are often machines, IVs, ventilators, etc. around the patient’s bed, these pose risks that must be under control.
a dog and its owner

The Therapeutic Effect of Letting Animals Visit Patients

Pets provide us with emotional support. This is especially true when we go through very difficult times.

Besides, as has been noted, their support even goes way beyond. Through animal therapy, our pets offer us both psychological and physical help.

Most pets are synonymous to companionship. Many pet cats are playful and curious, and their owners cherish them for that. A great number of pet dogs are friendly and loyal, traits that make them their humans’ best friends. But all pets that visit patients are a great example of nobility and love, proving us how precious a gift they truly are.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Graf, S. (1999). [The elderly and their pets. Supportive and problematic aspects and implications for care. A descriptive study]. Betagte Menschen Und Ihre Haustiere. Forderliche Und Problematische Aspekte Der Haustierhaltung Und Implikationen Fur Die (Kranken-)Pflege: Eine Beschreibende Untersuchung.
  • Sobo, E. J., Eng, B., & Kassity-Krich, N. (2006). Canine Visitation (Pet) Therapy: Pilot Data on Decreases in Child Pain Perception. Journal of Holistic Nursing.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.