Animal Therapy: A Brief Guide

1 min read

Animal therapy is a practice designed to help alleviate symptoms of various mental and physical conditions by strengthening the human-animal bond. Animals provide many beneficial experiences such as providing comfort, alerting others if someone is in danger, or performing specific tasks when trained to do so. From these interactions, animals reduce stress and pain and improve our overall mental state.


The benefits from animal therapy are numerous, including: 

  • Decrease in boredom
  • Increased activity levels
  • Reliable companionship
  • Improved mood
  • Increase overall social interactions. 

These factors all contribute to an improved mental state by decreasing feelings of loneliness and providing comfort. Additionally, animal therapy reduces pain, improves coordination, and enhances social and behavioral skills. Research has also shown that this practice can decrease blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, and even assist in memory recall for dementia patients. 

Results will vary from person to person. Animal therapy can be highly personalized with different methods for each individual’s needs. 

How it Works:

A handler or the animal’s owner comes to each session to help achieve the client’s goals. The trainer must go through certification and instructional courses for handling the animal properly and learning about the therapy process. When the handler is approved, the animal goes through a series of immunizations and performance tests to ensure that they’re healthy and safe for therapy. The animal also goes through temperament checks to ensure they have consistent and appropriate behavior. Lastly, the animal and handler work together to go through obedience training to strengthen their skills and guarantee professionalism.

Owning a Pet:

If you don’t think animal therapy is the best choice for you, consider adopting a pet. Having your own animal boasts many of the same benefits of the human-animal bond achieved through animal therapy. Pets can increase your activity levels and social life, provide new hobbies and interests, protect your home, provide companionship and decrease stress. 

If you are curious about owning your own pet, make sure the lifestyle is a good choice for you, your home, and your family. Some considerations to keep in mind include personal physical capabilities, age and needs of the animal, required finances, and the animal’s temperament. Keep in mind that there are many fantastic resources available to help take care of your pet if you already own one or want one in the future. These resources include dog walking services, training, grooming, pet sitting, and drop-in daycare! Some of the most popular include, and Thumbtack.

While not suitable for everyone, regular companionship with animals improves mental health by decreasing depression, lowering anxiety levels, and providing comfort. Additionally, it improves physical health by lowering blood pressure, reducing pain, and boosting memory recollection in dementia patients. However you choose to explore the human-animal bond, there are incredibly positive and powerful effects.

For more information regarding animal therapy check out these resources: What to know about animal therapy

Animal Assisted Therapy Research