WARRINGTON and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has introduced its newest member of staff.

The trust's paediatric unit has welcomed a therapy dog to its ranks: Otis.

A study has shown that patients benefit from as little exposure to therapy dogs as 10 minutes.

After visits from the animals, patients reported significant positive changes to how they were feeling.

Almost half of the patients (48 per cent) who were visited by the therapy dogs and their teams saw a reduction in anxiety, while 43 per cent reported a drop in their pain, 48 per cent in anxiety, 46 per cent in depression, and 41 per cent reported improved wellbeing.

The study was undertaken in Canada.

Dr Colleen Dell, of the University of Saskatchewan – who led the study - said: “The findings of this study contribute important knowledge towards the potential value of emergency department therapy dogs to affect patients’ experience of pain, and related measures of anxiety, depression and well-being.

“This is the first controlled trial of its kind in Canada — and elsewhere as far as we know.”

Warrington and Halton Hospitals introduced the community to its new therapy dog, Otis, on social media.

Posting on X (formerly Twitter), the trust's social media page wrote: "Introducing Otis the therapy dog.

"We are excited to announce that Otis will be visiting us every two weeks to offer patients a friendly smile and some well-needed distraction."