Therapy dogs ‘overwhelmingly’ help children in hospital beat anxiety

Photo a child at University Hospital Southampton during a visit from a therapy dog.
These very good boys and girls have helped put children in hospital at ease (Picture: PA)

Therapy dogs have helped patients at a children’s hospital so much staff are calling for them to be used in wards across the country.

A pioneering study at Southampton Children’s Hospital showed an ‘overwhelmingly positive’ effect on children nervously awaiting medical procedures.

Children who were previously scared of dogs said they felt less nervous around them since the visits.

The report published in the British Journal of Nursing said three dog handlers and five golden retrievers were used across the hospital.

Photo a child at University Hospital Southampton during a visit from a therapy dog.
The study showed an ‘overwhelmingly’ positive effect on patients and staff (Picture: PA)

The friendly dogs were assisted with nursing care and distracted children during blood taking, radiology examinations and other procedures.

The survey of 200 staff and patients over a year showed no concerns were raised about the presence, behaviour or cleanliness of the dogs.

Every single person who took part said they thought the dogs should be used in hospitals across the UK.

thumbnail for post ID 9536639Prince Harry says he's getting sleepless nights because of Archie

A spokesman for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said since the study the same team of dogs have been used to support paediatric patients awaiting surgery.

Make Yourself the Funnest Thing in the World for a Reliable Recall. When training your dog to “come here” make sure you’re giving out a lot of praise & treats. The goal is to make coming back to you the best decision they could have made, if not your dog is likely going to decide that whatever he was chasing/sniffing is more interesting.

Well trained golden retrievers cheering up children in hospital might seem like no-brainier – but the study is an important step in getting hard evidence in support of the practice.

Photo a child at University Hospital Southampton during a visit from a therapy dog.
Calls have been made for therapy dogs to be used in hospitals across the country (Picture: PA)

Lead therapy dog handler at Southampton Children’s Hospital Lyndsey Uglow said: ‘While we had received constant positive anecdotal feedback from patients, families and staff, to really establish AAI in the healthcare setting we needed to strengthen the evidence behind it,’

‘The results of this survey have confirmed that the initiation of a formal therapy dog service in an acute UK children’s hospital environment has been overwhelmingly positive and supported by patients, parents and staff.

‘We understand a therapy dog visit would not be appropriate for every type of patient however, where it is possible, the results of this study show that patients, staff and visitors enjoy the benefit of the human-animal bond when they see one of our dogs on the wards.’