Pet therapy
Animal companionship has been used as an informal source of comfort and relief of suffering across cultures throughout history. For over 40 yea...

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WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Adaptation to a stress (in a hospital environment), anxiety, autism, communicative disorders (nonverbal), depression, diabetes, emotional expression, high blood pressure, muscle strength, motivation, post-traumatic stress disorder, rehabilitation, self-esteem, sensory stimulation, spinal cord injury, stress reduction, well-being.


DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Routine veterinary screening of both resident and visiting companion animals is recommended for all nursing homes offering pet-assisted therapy.

There have been reports of pet therapy animals being carriers of disease organisms (bacteria, parasites) that have been transmitted to patients interacting with them. This is of special concern when the people interacting with the animals are immuno-compromised or otherwise more vulnerable to infection.

Some people have allergic reactions to some companion animals. This should be considered before the introduction of pet therapy, particularly in a setting where multiple people may be exposed.


This information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ( Tracee Rae Abrams, PharmD (University of Rhode Island); William Collinge, PhD, MPH (Collinge & Associates); Dawn Costa, BA, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Dana A. Hackman, BS (Northeastern University); Jennifer Minigh, PhD (Medical Communication Consultants); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Shannon Welch, PharmD (Northeastern University).


DISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to Selected references are listed below.

Allen K, Shykoff BE, Izzo JL Jr. Pet ownership, but not ace inhibitor therapy, blunts home blood pressure responses to mental stress. Hypertension 2001;38(4):815-820.

Banks MR, Banks WA. The effects of animal-assisted therapy on loneliness in an elderly population in long-term care facilities. J Gerontol.A Biol Sci Med Sci 2002;57(7):M428-M432.

Barker SB, Pandurangi AK, Best AM. Effects of animal-assisted therapy on patients' anxiety, fear, and depression before ECT. J ECT 2003;19(1):38-44.

Churchill M, Safaoui J, McCabe BW, et al. Using a therapy dog to alleviate the agitation and desocialization of people with Alzheimer's disease. J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv 1999;37(4):16-22.

Edwards NE, Beck AM. Animal-assisted therapy and Nutrition in Alzheimer's disease. West J Nurs Res 2002;24(6):697-712.

Enoch DA, Karas JA, Slater JD, et al. MRSA carriage in a pet therapy dog. J Hosp Infect 2005;60(2):186-188.

Fick KM. The influence of an animal on social interactions of nursing home residents in a group setting. Am J Occup Ther 1993;47(6):529-534.

Guay DR. Pet-assisted therapy in the nursing home setting: potential for zoonosis. Am J Infect Control 2001;29(3):178-186.

Hall PL, Malpus Z. Pets as therapy: effects on social interaction in long-stay psychiatry. Br.J Nurs. 11-23-2000;9(21):2220-2225.

Jessen J, Cardiello F, Baun MM. Avian companionship in alleviation of depression, loneliness, and low morale of older adults in skilled rehabilitation units. Psychol Rep 1996;78(1):339-348.

Kovacs Z, Kis R, Rozsa S, et al. Animal-assisted therapy for middle-aged schizophrenic patients living in a social institution. A pilot study. Clin.Rehabil 2004;18(5):483-486.

Nathans-Barel I, Feldman P, Berger B, et al. Animal-assisted therapy ameliorates anhedonia in schizophrenia patients. A controlled pilot study. Psychother Psychosom 2005;74(1):31-35.

Richeson NE. Effects of animal-assisted therapy on agitated behaviors and social interactions of older adults with dementia. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen 2003;18(6):353-358.

Sobo EJ, Eng B, Kassity-Krich N. Canine visitation (pet) therapy: pilot data on decreases in child pain perception. J Holist Nurs 2006 Mar;24(1):51-7.

Stasi MF, Amati D, Costa C, et al. Pet-therapy: a trial for institutionalized frail elderly patients. Arch Gerontol Geriatr Suppl 2004;(9):407-412.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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