So Joondalup Health Campus has begun offering patients therapy from an alternative source.
Toy poodle Lady visits the hospital weekly and has fast become one of the campus’ most sought after forms of care.
Elderly patients in particular have become enamoured with the six-year-old canine, including 83-year-old Marian Lane.
“I just love animals so much,” she said.
“Back when I had my kids in hospital you were only allowed short visits from your husband.
“You would never have been allowed a visit from a dog so it’s just lovely.”
Ms Lane’s daughter Lindy described the noticeable difference the pet visits had made for her mother.
“Mum has a cat at home so she misses the contact,” she said.
“Being able to cuddle Lady has been really great for her wellbeing.”
JHC clinical nurse manager Kay Turner said pet therapy had become a common form of rehabilitation that reduced anxiety and loneliness.
She said some evidence had suggested it could also improve muscle strength and co-ordination.
“We recently saw a patient who suffers from Parkinson’s disease who had difficulty moving her hands,” she said.
“We placed Lady next to her with her hand on top and we were delighted when we saw the patient running her hands through Lady’s fur,” she said.