Pet Connections

What are Therapy Animals and How Are They Beneficial? Brad Herman

Therapy animals play an extraordinary role in offering affection to individuals in a retirement home, nursing home, hospital, schools, or other situations. They provide love and support needed by individuals seeking emotional assistance. Those who have come to rely on these type of emotional support pets have come to realize the profound impact these animals can make on their everyday lives.

There are three classifications of therapy animals:

  • Facility Therapy Animals: The animals play an important role in the lives of people who work in assisted living facilities or nursing homes. These therapy animals are helpful in treating people with dementia, Alzheimer’s or other mental illnesses and have to be cared for by the facility.
  • Animal Assisted Therapy Animals: These therapy animals work well with occupational and physical therapists in a rehab setting to help people to reach their recovery goals.
  • Therapeutic Visitation Animals: These animals are household pets and are trained for helping people who live in rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and other locations. Therapy animals provide joy to people who are far from home due to any physical or mental illness.

How Does An Animal Become a Therapy Animal?

An animal must be certified as an emotional support animal. All therapy animals are clean, obedient, tempered and well groomed. They behave appropriately in the presence of other animals. They are current on all vaccines and are at least one year old. Therapy animals must be able to socialize as they help people living in different backgrounds and settings. An animal cannot be certified as a therapy animal if it does not pass an examination that tests its temperament. Most therapy animals are dogs and various therapy groups require that the animal passes the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test.

How Do Therapy Animals Help?

Taking care of a pet induces a strong sense of routine. This is something that many patients dealing with emotional and mental challenges need for functioning normally. That is why people who are prone to get depressed easily and lose track of their daily routine can greatly benefit from a therapy animal. The needs of all therapy animals can vary. It can either be a cat or a dog or any other animal that can be groomed for offering support. Since animals must be treated well, it is imperative that handlers are committed to keep them safe and healthy.

It is proven that simply stroking a pet can lower blood pressure and reduce emotional or physical stress. Many people who are mentally and physically fit also keep rabbits, goats, cats and dogs. Again, every animal requires a different level of commitment to provide joy and support to its handler. Therapy animals give patients a feeling of calmness and a positive energy that helps them overcome unpleasant life situations.

Therapy Animals for Organizations

Residential services for medically unwell people frequently utilize therapy animals to have a soothing effect on patients. Rabbits are also a popular choice in nursing homes, as they are less allergenic as compared to cats and dogs. Rabbits are often chosen as the therapy animal of choice in nursing homes because they are often times friendly, small, and light enough to be easily portable to allow the elderly residents to have them on their laps.

Effect of Therapy Animals on Patients

Medical science has investigated the influence of therapy animals on patients and has discovered positive effects on people who come in contact with them. Patients or general people who kept therapy animals showed reduced anxiety and blood pressure levels and made fewer trips to their GP. According to a study, breast cancer patients showed positive recovery results owing to the support provided by their pets or therapy animals.

Keeping a fluffy and feathery animal demands commitments and compassion by the handler, whether it is an individual or a rehab/medical facility. However, they return the love by providing healing benefits and companionship to people who have special needs or dealing with harsh life events. You can get in touch with your local therapy dog organization to know more about the specific certification requirements of utilizing a therapy animal.


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023