Canine-assisted therapy

Canine-assisted therapy, also known as dog-assisted therapy and a type of pet therapy, is where a therapy dog acts as a ‘mediator’ and interacts with patients as treatment.

This therapy is carried out in the presence of a trained therapist who establishes a relationship between the dog and patient. Canine-assisted therapy is used in addition to conventional therapies.

Who is the therapy aimed at?

Canine-assisted therapy is used in orthopaedics and neurology.

It helps cancer patients or patients with neurodegenerative diseases (for example, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease) who suffer from chronic pain, struggle with depression or are victims of a stroke.

Canine-assisted therapy is also an option for people with a total hip/knee prosthesis.

The 45-minute sessions are customised to meet the needs of each individual patient.

What are the potential benefits of canine-assisted therapy?

Working with animals can help patients on both a physical and psychological level. Through the presence of the dog, specific activities can be offered with the aim of improving the health but also the quality of life of patients. The presence of the animal brings an additional motivation that pushes the patient to excel.

The interaction with the dog also aims at facilitating the patient's acceptance of their disability and helping them to regain their self-confidence. The mediator dog provides comfort to the patient. The patient enjoys having a companion while forgetting their daily worries, pain and discomfort. The dog, as a non-judgemental and benevolent creature, mentally supports the patient and can help to regain this need for fulfilment.

For neurological disorders, canine-assisted therapy helps train the voice, mindfulness, balance, locomotion and upper limb mobility.

What therapy options are available?

Canine-assisted therapy is individually tailored for each patient.

Together with the therapists, goals are defined and they are achieved with the help of the therapy dog, these include for example:

  • Building self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Communication through looks, gestures and language
  • Dealing with looks from other people
  • Strengthening balance
  • Improving attention
  • Training fine motor skills and movements

What kind of dog do you have at Clinique Valmont?

We have a blonde Bouvier des Flandres called Sanka Saru at Clinique Valmont. He has been trained to assist patients with neurological conditions or orthopaedic impairments.

Who can practise canine-assisted therapy?

Canine-assisted therapy can only be practised by a therapist trained in pet therapy, in addition to a medical or paramedical diploma. The animal therapist then introduces the dog to the practice of their profession in order to improve the patient care.

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