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Pet Therapy for In-Home Hospice Patients


Pet TherapyFlorence Nightingale once wrote that a small pet is ‘an excellent companion for the sick, for long chronic cases especially.’ The emerging field of pet therapy aims to capitalize on this positivity, enhancing recovery and promoting well-being. Patricia Petroulias, Residential Hospice’s director of education as well as an assistant professor at Oakland University, has initiated pet therapy as part of Residential Hospice’s available patient services. The pet therapy program connects hospice patients with volunteers and certified therapy dogs for comforting, furry encounters.

Pet therapy has already been shown to have measurable benefits for many health conditions. According to Psychology Today, simply owning a dog is associated with lowering heart attack risk and increasing survival rates one year after heart attack. Additional documented benefits include reduction in loneliness and depression, an increase in engagement and overall well-being, and improved nutrition and regular eating. In nursing homes, the presence of a dog is associated with reduced need for medication, improved physical functioning, and improved vital signs. Petroulias hopes to further these research efforts, specifically in relation to hospice patients.

Many of us have had positive experiences with pets, whether bringing a puppy into the family or perhaps a neighbor’s cat. Pet therapy, in turn, has benefits that extend beyond immediate companionship and into fond memories and positive emotions. The Mayhew Animal Home shows the smiles that pets can bring to hospice patients in this video.

To learn more about what Residential Hospice programs may benefit you or a loved one, call (888) 930-WELL (9355) to speak with a Home Care Specialist about your specific health needs.