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A dog could be someone's only friend

  • Comments (11)

Pets are an increasingly important part of our lives and especially so for many older people. For some, their dog is the most important being in their lives with a strong attachment bond that gives them companionship and helps to get them through tough times. For those who have few friends and family they can be almost like next of kin.

I was at Discover Dogs yesterday and watched an amazing display of golden retrievers and their owners. The troupe developed when some of the owners from a dog obedience class decided to keep the group together. The relationship between the owners was great to see and I imagine being involved gives them all a lot of fun and social support.

As well as the relationship and common bond between the adults, the strength of attachment with the dogs was very apparent. It made me wonder what would happen if one of the handlers was in hospital, how they would really miss that attachment.

Recent guidance by the British Association of Critical Care Nurses included the issue of pets and visiting and how the conflicting needs of infection control and the psychological boost of a pet can be balanced.

As the report says “Critical care nurses have to consider if it is justified to let that pet visit as long as it is appropriate and that sensible infection control precautions are taken and the visit is limited to the pet’s owner only”. And adds that “the hope and joy raised by the visit” of a beloved dog “might make all the difference to the patient in terms of will to survive”. And this must be the case not just in critical care but in all inpatient situations.

When I watched the dogs with their owners at the event, it was clear to me just how much people care for their dogs. The wealth of shopping opportunities – treats, toys, grooming and even outfits (No, we do not need a dinosaur outfit for the dog) made me realise how dogs become family members. So when patients are separated from their pets they will not only miss them, but also worry about them which can impact negatively on recovery.

Have you any experience of helping patients see their pets?

  • Comments (11)

Readers' comments (11)

  • Anonymous

    PLEASE change the title. Yet again...it is misleading.
    I agree with all the gumph about dogs & their owners etc...but next of kin????

    Do dogs sign paperwork? Do dogs make decisions about care?
    No.
    When NT editors use titles and headlines that are glamourous and 'eye catching' it seems just out of place.
    Best to leave it to the big newspapers, not nurses.

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  • Kathryn Godfrey

    Hi
    Glad you agree with the content. With our opinion/blog section with do sometimes use lighter more entertaining headlines to give some variety. Our site offers a range of content --we would not use such a headline for our straightforward clinical/practice content. I have put on inverted commas so it's clearer.

    I hope our readers enjoy the blog.

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  • Anonymous

    Blogs do not HAVE to be flippant or amusing as they can convey serious issues as well. This headline was not at all amusing and was misleading.... I totally agree with the first reader! Please have some sensibility about what to make "amusing". I am sorry, but I feel you have ridiculed a serious and sensible suggestion and not made it "amusing" or "entertaining". (Note use of inverted commas.)

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  • Anonymous

    Please remember that charities such as the Cinnamon Trust are there to play a huge role in keeping pets and their owners together. The support given in terms of excersing pets, fostering taking to the vets cannot be over emphasised.

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  • Anonymous | 12-Nov-2013 0:33 am

    PLEASE change the title. Yet again...it is misleading.
    I agree with all the gumph about dogs & their owners etc...but next of kin????

    Do dogs sign paperwork? Do dogs make decisions about care?
    No.

    ...nor do next of kin anon, or at least, they shouldn't be.

    Mental Capacity Act anyone?

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  • Anonymous

    I think Kathryn was adding a human touch to his
    article.

    Stop being so critical!

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  • tinkerbell

    I liked this article. Pets should never be underestimated in the effect they can have on someones wellbeing, especially those who live alone. Pets are great company for young and old alike and can be a real companion and comfort for those who live alone.

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  • The Cinnamon Trust are brilliant. We use them a lot. Pets do matter to people, as Tink says, especially those who live alone.

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  • Anonymous

    We should never underestimate the importance pets have on our mental well-being. I hope one day carers in all settings see this and allow (hopefully also encourage) pets visiting patients or that arrangements are made for patients to see their pets in the hospital grounds.
    If ever a pet-creche system comes into place in the NHS I will be the first to sign up!
    Does anyone remember all the hoo-hah surrounding the baby reindeer who was 'allowed' on a childrens ward last Christmas? - let's hope we have moved on since then.

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  • Anonymous

    My dog is the most influential being in our house. He stops arguments when he flattens his ears against his head, wags his tail and seeks reassurance from the combatants by going to them in turn and licking them. He makes us take him out for long walks whatever the weather and keeps us fit. He cuddles up to us if he senses we feel sad or upset or if we are not! He doesn't work or bring anything other than mud into the house. He loves us unconditionally and is unerringly faithful. He gives us the best welcome, even if we've only been away for a few minutes. He makes us laugh and is always full of mischief. He is a rubbish guard dog because although he would alert you to the presence of burglars, the chances are he'd befriend them in seconds because he loves everybody. Wouldn't be without him.

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