What are the benefits of pet therapy?

UCLA Health People Animal Connection (PAC) Program
Alternative & Complementary Medicine Specialist

Hospital studies have shown that pet therapy offers many physical and psychological benefits. For example, a study at UCLA demonstrated a 14 percent drop in anxiety levels when patients were in the presence of a therapy dog. Also, due to the fact that almost all dog owners talk to their dog, patients in the presence of a therapy dog would be more inclined to engage in conversation. In addition, interacting with a pet is known to have a beneficial effect on certain hormones, and can also help to decrease blood pressure as well as pressure within the lungs.

Pet therapy entails bringing pets, such as dogs, to visit critically ill children and adults. Pet therapy brings about physiological signs of relaxation, such as decreased blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate.

There are many positive benefits of pet therapy. Research has shown that interacting with animals may lower blood pressure, decrease depression and anxiety, speed healing, decrease feelings of isolation, provide comfort, encourage communication and assist with learning.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.