Answering Common Questions about the Use of Pet Therapy in Patient Treatment

Woman interacting with a dog during a therapy session

There are many different elements involved in patient treatment, and nurses need to stay in-the-know about all of them. If you’re a registered nurse, then Grand Canyon University’s College of Nursing and Healthcare Professions can help you stay on top of the latest trends in health care while gaining the skills necessary to further your career. When you’re always learning, you’ll stay informed about different types of treatment, including pet therapy.

What is pet therapy?

Pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy, refers to the process of having patients interact with trained animals during their treatment plans. Dogs and cats are the most common animals seen in this type of therapy, though horses, fish and other types of animals can also participate in this aspect of patient treatment. Patients can undergo pet therapy in many different environments, including hospitals, mental health facilities, nursing homes, boarding schools and prisons. Depending on the setting and the animal, pet therapy can refer to anything from petting and brushing a dog or cat to caring for and riding a horse regularly.

What are the benefits associated with pet therapy?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, owning a pet can decrease blood pressure and cholesterol and provide many other benefits. Patients don’t need to own pets to take advantage of these benefits, though, thanks to pet therapy. Interacting with animals can provide both physical and mental benefits to patients of all ages. Overall health benefits of pet therapy include lowering blood pressure, reducing pain and improving heart health. When included in physical therapy treatment, pet therapy can help improve motor skills, boost joint movement and shorten recovery time. As part of a mental health treatment plan, pet therapy can reduce anxiety, lessen boredom, encourage better communication, reduce feelings of isolation and increase social skills.

Who is a good candidate for pet therapy?

Because pet therapy provides a multitude of benefits, it can be incorporated into treatment for many different types of patients in many different health care settings. Good candidates for pet therapy include people with autism spectrum disorders and other mental health disorders, as animal interaction can help them feel calm, relaxed and comfortable. This type of therapy can also be beneficial for people struggling with chronic pain, as interacting with animals can be soothing and help joint function. People with cancer, heart disease, dementia and psychiatric disorders can also gain mental and physical benefits from including pet therapy in their treatment plans.

When you enroll in the RN to BSN program at Grand Canyon University, you will study many different topics, including trends in today’s health care. This can help you stay up-to-date on the latest issues and concerns in patient care. If you’re interested in learning more about this program, you can visit the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions website or click on the Request More Information button on the top of this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.