The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) launched the protocol, ‘Working with dogs in health care settings’, on Monday 14 May in a bid to encourage more hospitals to explore animal therapy.
A recent RCN survey found that 90 percent of nurses believed that animals can improve the health of patients with depression and other mental health problems, and 60 percent said the presence of animals could speed patient recovery.
The new protocol will see the introduction of dogs to healthcare settings and includes advice on licking, paws on beds and allergies.
The college also found that interaction with dogs, cats, dolphins, birds, cows, rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs could also be effective for those with mental health and behavioural issues.
Simon Doherty, BVA junior vice president, said: “This new protocol highlights the importance of the bond between humans and animals. It also serves as a welcome reminder at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week of how caring for and interacting with ‘man’s best friend’ can help to relieve stress and enhance wellbeing and a sense of companionship.
“It’s positive that the working group consulted with a wide range of organisations on welfare and safety considerations in developing this protocol, as ensuring the wellbeing of both humans and animals in these settings is paramount. As a fellow member of the UK One Health Coordination Group, BVA is very pleased to see a joined-up and forward-thinking approach to this important area of work.”