Dog-assisted therapy in the dental clinic. Part B. Hazards and assessment of potential risks to the health and safety of the dental therapy dog
Objectives - To describe potential hazards associated with risks to health and safety to therapy dogs in dental clinics and to present suggestions for risk minimisation by adopting best practices in dental clinic settings.
Materials and method - Literature searches in Medline, Clinicaltrials.gov, and Google Scholar for qualitative and quantitative assessments of occupational hazards and risks in dental clinics, in combination with a review of the reference list of the included studies. Identified hazards and risks were analysed relative to their relevance for the health and welfare of a therapy dog present in a dental clinic setting.
Results - Workplace hazards in the dental clinic that apply to both humans and therapy dogs are allergies, sharps injury, eye injury, stress, rhinitis, hearing impairment, and other hazards. Additional concerns associated with risks for the dental therapy dog are situations involving erratic patient behaviour and threats if the patient is an undisclosed disease carrier. Risks to the health and safety of the dental therapy dog in the clinics are present but are low if the dental clinical staff and dog handlers comply with best practices.
Conclusions - Best practice includes awareness amongst the clinic staff and the dog handler of all potential hazards in the dental clinic and on how to reduce these hazards as well as adverse events that may scare the dental therapy dog. The dental therapy dog team must be specially trained to work in a dental clinic. Each treatment session has to be exclusively tailored to that specific appointment and the individual patient.