National Capital Therapy Dogs
Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy
The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment.
- American Veterinary Medical Association
Companion animals offer security, companionship, comfort, and unconditional love. Pet therapy programs bring those and other benefits to people in health facilities, shelters, schools, libraries, and other settings where people may not be able to have pets of their own. Pet therapy is a broad term that includes animal-assisted therapy and other animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders.
Animal-assisted activities, on the other hand, have a more general purpose, such as providing comfort and enjoyment for nursing home residents.
Much research has been done on the benefits of pet therapy. Pet therapy has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also help increase self-esteem, improve social skills, and help children improve their reading and communication skills.