A dog in a dental office would have been very unusual 50 years ago. As we continue to learn about the benefits of therapy dogs and how they can reduce anxiety, more dental offices are using them to calm their patients during procedures.
What are Therapy Dogs?
The American Kennel Club explains that therapy dogs and their owners “work together as a team to improve the lives of other people.” Studies show that having an “interaction with a friendly companion animal, in particular, a dog,” positively affects us and provides a reduction of stress by lowering the heart rate and blood pressure.
In the dental office, this means that therapy dogs can be used as a non-invasive way to provide stress-relief to anxious patients without medication. Dr. Marra in Phoenix, Arizona told CBS5, “It’s amazing how much it calms down patients. We are using less nitric oxide, less local anesthetic. Even patients who aren’t afraid say it’s much more relaxing.”
Not only are patients relaxed, but they’re excited to go to the dentist when there are distractions like Macie, Brooke, and Flossie.
Therapy Dogs in Action
Macie the dental therapy dog works in San Antonio, Texas. She’s a certified American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen (AKC CGC). Macie comes to the office twice a week for what the staff and patients have come to know as “Macie Work Day.” Patients spend time holding, petting, or even napping alongside Macie, which helps provide relief to their dental anxiety.
Similarly, Brooke, a golden-retriever, and Flossie provide stress relief for patients at offices in New York and Virginia.
To Reap the Benefits of Therapy Dogs in Your Dental Office, Consider:
- Is there enough room in the office?
- Is the dog you’re choosing hypoallergenic?
- What is the breed’s temperament?
- Will you inform patients when the therapy dog is in?
- Where will you train the dog for proper behavior?
Are you considering bringing therapy dogs into your dental practice? Comment below and share if you think therapy dogs could be beneficial at the dentist.