• Germany's news in English

Paws for relief as hospital welcomes dogs

DPA/The Local · 9 Mar 2015, 14:55

Published: 09 Mar 2015 14:55 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Patients in the palliative care unit at the University Hospital in Göttingen are now allowed to take their dogs with them as a means of respite and to provide emotional support.

“It is a great way to have those you love around you,” hospital director Friedmann Nauck explained. “Because animals are also loved ones.”

The longterm benefits of having a pet have been reported on for some time. According to the Bremen-based Research Centre for Pets in Society, short-term effects are also pronounced.

“Contact with animals can have positive short term effects on humans, just as it has positive long term effects,” the centre's Kathrine Fichtel told The Local on Monday.

Reduction of blood pressure, heart rate and the amount of cortisol, a stress related hormone, are some of the effects Fichtel points out, saying that differences can be noticed from one minute to the next.

“The stronger the connection between pet and owner, the greater the effect one notices.”

At Göttingen University Hospital the dogs are not allowed to simply wander aimlessly through the building.

The rooms in the palliative care unit have direct access to terraces, explains Nauck. This way the patients can look after their pets without disturbing other people.

To visit, the dog must be healthy and that have previously lived with the patient.

According to Fichtel, research shows that hospitals have nothing to fear from welcoming our four-legged friends, as long as certain rules are adhered to.

“The Robert Koch Institute had done a study which shows that dogs do not pose a health risk in hospitals,” she says.

“As long as they are vaccinated, wormed and are well brought up, so that they don't jump up onto beds, there is absolutely nothing to be said against it.”

Pets are not just good for patients in palliative care, says Fichtel. They are also useful in psychotherapeutic treatments.

“Pets help build trust in a relationship,” she explains. “When an animal is present during a therapy session, it makes it easier for the patient to meet the therapist on friendly terms. It creates a totally different atmosphere.”

Not everybody is convinced though.

In most German hospitals canine companions are still strictly forbidden.

“In our hospital, bringing pets is prohibited according to hygiene standards which look after the patient's safety,” said a spokesman for Wolfsburg Hospital.

According to a spokeswoman for the health services in Lower Saxony, pets are categorically forbidden from entering hospital premises.

Göttingen hospital isn't the first to make headlines of this nature, though.

News outlets in Israel recently reported on a dog so upset at being split from its owner that it was allowed to stay with him in the hospital. Doctors at the Tel Aviv health facility allowed the long-haired cross-breed to stay in her owner's bed.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
German hospital uses therapy to 'treat' paedophiles
A poster from the campaigne "Don't offend", which offers therapy to paedophiles. The sign reads "Do you love kids more than you'd prefer? There's help." Photo: DB Scholz & Friends / DPA.

A unique German initiative is offering therapy to paedophiles to control their urges, with the aim of getting them help before they offend.

Minister: 'no tolerance' for clowns after chainsaw attack
Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has called for a zero-tolerance approach to 'killer clowns' after a series of attacks culminating in two teenagers being chased by a clown wielding a chainsaw.

Baby who was auctioned on eBay taken away from father
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

These are Germany's top ten universities
The new library of Freiburg University. Photo: Jörgens.mi / Wikimedia Commons

These are the best universities in all of Germany - at least according to one ranking.

Introducing Swabians - 'the Scots of Germany'
Photo: DPA

These Southern Germans have quite a reputation in the rest of the country.

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf
Photo: DPA

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd