While animal therapy has proven benefits to the health and wellbeing of patients and hospital staff, the programs can also pose an infection risk, The [Iowa] Gazette reported. UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's Hospital and Mercy Medical Center have therefore established new guidelines to reduce the risk of infections. For example, animal owners must take part in the hospitals' volunteer training program or orientation and have their animals registered. In addition, they must trim the pets' nails to prevent them from scratching patients and must bathe them within 24 hours of a hospital visit. Article.