Your cart

Your cart is empty

Pet Therapy: How It Works, Benefits and More


Time to read 3 min

Discover the incredible benefits of pet therapy

It’s no secret that pets bring immense joy. Anyone who has spent time with a loving dog or felt the soft vibrations of a cat’s purr knows that animals have a powerful effect on us.

Recent scientific research shows that our pets are more than just happiness-inducing buddies. They can actually contribute to our well-being and even boost our physical strength too. This is why pet therapy is a popular and effective form of therapy. 

What is pet therapy?

Pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy, uses animals to help people manage, recover from, or boost their physical and mental health.

Research shows (like this study on creating a therapeutic and healing environment with a pet therapy program) that when people regularly play with  or interact with animals, they experience a wide range of health benefits.

What are the physical benefits of pet therapy?

  • Interacting with animals can lead to an increase in mobility.
  • It can reduce pain, fatigue, and tension.
  • It can increase energy levels.
  • It can lower blood pressure and physiological stress.

What are the mental benefits of pet therapy?

  • It can reduce stress and anxiety.
  • It can decrease feelings of fear or worry.
  • It can increase a sense of social support.
  • It can improve mood and general well-being.

Did you know?

Among therapy animals, dogs are the most common, and for good reason!

According to Dr. Ann Berger, a researcher and physician at NIH Clinical Center, dogs possess an uncanny ability to be present and affectionate, making them invaluable companions. 

“Dogs are very present. If someone is struggling with something, they know how to sit there and be loving. Their attention is focused on the person all the time.” - The Power of Pets from News in Health

How pet therapy works

How pet therapy works depends on the goals, condition, and type of aid a person needs. There are 3 basic types of pet therapy: 

  1. Therapeutic visitation: Owners take their personal pets to visit health care facilities. For hospitalised patients missing their own pets, a visit from someone else’s pet can be motivating and aid in their recovery.
  2. Animal-assisted therapy: Trained animals work alongside physical and occupational therapists to help patients in various ways. Interacting with animals can improve limb mobility and fine motor skills in patients. Therapy pets can help patients relearn pet care skills too, so they can take care of their own pets when they return home.
  3. Facility therapy:  These therapy pets often reside at the care centre and are trained to monitor and engage patients with Alzheimer’s disease or other mental illnesses. They learn the limitations and boundaries of the residents and help keep them safe. 

Who benefits the most from pet therapy?

People of all ages can benefit from pet therapy. From bedridden patients to more active ones, pet therapy caters to a wide range of needs. The presence of a pet brings comfort, entertainment, and a welcome distraction from anybody dealing with physical, medical, or emotional challenges.

Is puppy therapy the same thing as pet therapy?

Not quite! While puppy therapy shares numerous mental benefits with pet therapy, there are some distinct differences: 

  • Puppy therapy focuses on interacting with puppies in a cheerful, relaxed environment to boost mood.
  • Safety and puppy socialisation are the primary focus in puppy therapy activities.
  • Puppies lack training, which limits their assistance in certain areas. Seek out professionally trained therapy animals for substantial needs.

Check out our puppy events:

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should not participate in pet therapy?

Pet therapy is great, but it is not for everyone. Some people simply do not like animals and being around a pet may increase their stress level. 

Patients with weak immune systems also have to be very cautious about their contact with pets, in case of any asymptomatic infectious diseases the pet may be carrying.

Where is pet therapy offered?

Pet therapy is offered across North America. 

Here are some resources you can use to help you find pet therapy in your area:


Find Publicly-fund or Free Pet Therapy or Animal-Assisted Servies on 


Find AKC Recognized Therapy Dog Organizations

What pets are used in pet therapy?

Dogs are the most common pets used in pet therapy. However, other species such as cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and horses can also be used in pet therapy.