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'Pets are part of the family, don’t overlook them'

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“Oh well, at least you can get another one.” Someone said that to me the day after my beloved dog had died and, decades later, I find it hard to forgive the insensitivity

The truth is, to their owners, most pets are members of the family. For some, they are the only family member – or at least the only one they see regularly. To lose them can be devastating.

Ill health can make it difficult or impossible for owners to care for their animals and, aside from animal-welfare issues, it can also cause owners real distress.

Our review discusses the effect of animals on the health of the people who care for them. The author argues that nurses can help patients to maintain contact with their animals and that checking whether they have pets should be part of a holistic nursing assessment. This does not just ensure animals are safe – it has real health benefits.

Ann Shuttleworth is practice and learning editor of Nursing Times Twitter @AnnNursingTimes

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