Following up on the lighthearted rant about fake emotional support animals, it’s important to remember that animals can do great things in many situations. Dental offices weren’t really on my radar until Dr. Anne Gussgard from the UiT Arctic University of Norway contacted me about the work her team was doing with dog-assisted therapy in dental offices.
It makes complete sense, as dental offices can be anxiety-invoking for many, and the calming effect of a properly implemented dog therapy program could certainly have benefits to the patient, reducing stress or even reducing the need for sedation.
Anytime animals are brought into healthcare facilities, there are two main areas of concern: health risks to people and health risks to the animals (in this case dogs). Often the latter gets overlooked. Dr. Gussgard coordinated two papers in Clinical and Experimental Dental Research about these risks. It’s still early, and the impacts and risks still need to be studied, but the two papers highlight important issues and approaches for people considering studying or implementing dog-assisted therapy in dental offices.
(All images from Gussgard et al, Clinical and Experimental Dental Research, 2019)