Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Balance

Font Size

Hospital Pet Programs Unleash Healing Powers

Benefits to Patients continued...

A visit from one's pet is especially meaningful for patients who are depressed, says Deborah Stein, MD, MPH, chief of the section of trauma critical care at the University of Maryland's R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Before the University of Maryland Medical Center began its pet visitation program in 2008, Stein, a dog lover, helped get approval to reunite two of her spinal-cord-injured patients with their dogs at the Shock Trauma Center. Although both patients were paralyzed from the neck down, they were mentally aware and were able to be close to their dogs during the short visits, she says.

"It did wonders for these patients to be able to gain a little bit of normalcy. The expression on the patient's face was wonderful," Stein says. These good feelings tend to linger after the pet leave, she says.

A pet visit may also have social effects that can improve care. There is anecdotal evidence that after a pet visits, the patient may open up and communicate better with care providers, says Jane Rosenman, MD, a pediatrician at the Mayo Clinic Children's Center in Rochester, Minn.

Preventing Problems

The Mayo Clinic's pet visitation policy has been in place for at least 20 years at its Minnesota campus and is part of its complementary and integrative medicine program, says program coordinator Barb Thomley.

As is typical of hospital pet-visiting programs, the Mayo Clinic requires family and staff to get approval from the patient's doctor, schedule the visit ahead of time, and limit the in-room visit to two hours so the patient does not become overly fatigued. The Mayo Clinic does not allow pets to visit if the patient has open wounds that cannot be covered or if the patient's immunity is low.

Hospitals that allow pet visits, most often limited to a single dog or cat, have a long list of requirements for the visiting animal. Typically the pet must:

  • Be healthy and free of parasites
  • Have proof of up-to-date rabies vaccination
  • Be bathed and groomed within 24 hours of the visit
  • Not have been fed within two hours of the visit
  • Be transported in a carrier or on a leash
  • Have an accompanying adult handler at all times
  • Not interact with other patients

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
mature woman with glass of water
Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
Take your medication
Hand appearing to hold the sun
Hungover man
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Woman worn out on couch
Happy and sad faces
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
laughing family