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Keywords:

  • health benefits;
  • pet-facilitated therapy;
  • social support;
  • stress

• There is mounting evidence to suggest that those who keep pets are likely to benefit from various improvements in health.

• Despite founders of nursing such as Florence Nightingale advocating the importance of animals within the care environment, their integration into hospitals and other health care settings has been slow.

• The literature on animal-induced health benefits is reviewed and the conclusion is drawn that the potential benefits of pet therapy are considerable.

• It is suggested that nurses can assume an active role in advocating ward pet or pet-visiting schemes.