Service Dog and Pet Visitation

We are committed to safe, easy, and equal access to quality healthcare for patients and guests of all abilities. We appreciate the importance of your dog's service and companionship. This information, developed with careful consideration of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), will help visitors to our facilities understand how we welcome service animals.

We welcome:

Please ensure the following animals remain in the comfort of your home and outside of our facilities:

  • Emotional support animals (non-psychiatric service animals).
  • Personal pets. In special circumstances, a personal pet may be approved to visit with a patient who is in the hospital. Such visits require coordination with our staff. To arrange this type of visit, please see the About personal pet visitation section below, or talk to the patient's care provider to ask about a visit.

If you are visiting the hospital with a dog

If your dog is a service dog, registered with us as a volunteer therapy dog, or has been approved for a special visit to a hospitalized patient, please help us maintain a safe and comfortable environment for all of our patients and guests by ensuring that the dog:

  • Remains leashed, harnessed, or tethered at all times unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the person’s disability prevents the use of these devices. In that case, the person must use voice, signal, or other effective means to maintain control of the service animal.
  • Is in good health and free of fever, stomach upset, diarrhea, fleas, and skin lesions.
  • Has received the appropriate shots and is registered with your city or town.
  • Exhibits a friendly, non-threatening temperament for the safety and well-being of all guests. Dogs that display behaviors such as growling, jumping, lunging, snarling, or nipping are likely to bring discomfort to other guests and will be asked to leave the facility.

Our staff and volunteers are not responsible for caring for any animal on the premises. All animals on-site must have a designated handler.

About personal pet visitation

In special circumstances, we may be able to allow a visit from a personal pet for patients with prolonged hospitalization. If you or a loved one are a patient in the hospital and may benefit from a visit with a personal pet, your care team can help you determine how to schedule a visit.

The nursing unit manager who oversees the unit's care will work with you, our Collaborative Healthcare-associated Infection Prevention (known as "CHIP"), and our Security Office to assess the impact of a personal pet visit for patients and families in the immediate area.

If you or a loved one plan to arrange for a personal pet visit with the local nursing unit manager, please ensure that a designated person—neither staff nor patient—will be on-site to provide care and supervision of the dog for the entirety of the dog's visit.

Unfortunately, certain areas cannot accommodate animals due to the increased risk of infection or harm to those in our care. Please help us keep the following spaces animal-free:

  • 1W/HSCU
  • Critical Care Units (ICUs/CVCC, ISCU, PICU, ICN, NSCU, CSCU)
  • Emergency Department
  • Expanded precaution rooms 
  • Food or  medication preparation areas
  • Hematology Oncology 
  • Immunocompromised patient rooms
  • Newborn baby rooms
  • Operating rooms and recovery rooms (OR/PACU/SDP/OSC/CSI/PAT)
  • Radiation Oncology

Accident clean-up

If a pet has an accident, we ask that the handler help us prevent falls by wiping clean the immediate area. We also ask that the handler notify a staff member of the exact location of the accident so that the site can be properly disinfected by our Environmental Services team.

Questions about pet visitation

If you have questions about bringing a pet to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, please call Security Services. You can also stop by one of our information desks.