When patients are ill or injured, the associated stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and decreased satisfaction with the care they receive. Pet therapy—the use of trained animals to benefit patients and improve outcomes—is a way to effectively address patients’ stress while in healthcare settings. Pets have been documented since as early as 3000 BCE, with a long history of benefitting the humans interacting with them in a variety of different ways. A quick internet search yields myriad articles on the benefits of pets, such as decreased BP, stress, and anxiety. This article discusses pet therapy, including its history, benefits, related concerns, and implementation of pet therapy programs.

Pet therapy can be used in a variety of settings from pediatrics to geriatrics. Therapy animals visit patients in hospitals, long-term-care settings, hospice centers, and schools. Animals that may be used in pet therapy programs include cats, dogs, birds, guinea pigs, fish, rabbits, horses, and dolphins. Although these animals are the most frequently used in pet therapy, there are many other animals that can be used in a therapeutic way.

Of the animals listed, many can be brought to healthcare facilities, whereas others, such as horses and dolphins, require an outpatient appointment. Patients can enter these programs on their own or with a referral from a healthcare provider. In some instances, patients need to pay for these programs out of pocket but often donations and grants offer financial support, making it possible for individuals to benefit without a huge financial burden. When discussing outpatient pet therapy with patients, make sure to educate them about finding reputable programs. Read More: https://journals.lww.com/nursingmadeincrediblyeasy/fulltext/2020/01000/the_benefits_of_pet_therapy.2.aspx