Pet therapy is a form of therapy that enables interactions between a human and a trained animal. It is sometimes referred to as animal therapy or more formally as Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). Pet therapy has been utilized for seniors and other individuals with health challenges to provide support, comfort, and companionship.
Pet therapy has various healing benefits and is a great therapy option for patients receiving hospice care. Since hospice patients receive services intended to improve comfort, pet therapy is often introduced as a complement to other services like pain management, symptom management, and assistance with activities of daily living. A combination of services and therapies tailored to each patient helps provide comfort and improve quality of life.
Some benefits for patients who receive pet therapy include:
- Improvement in emotional state and mental well-being
- Increase in motivation and physical activity
- Decrease in depression, stress, and anxiety
- Opportunity for companionship and connection
- Distraction from pain or discomfort
- Sensory stimulation
Pet therapy does not look the same for every patient. It is offered to achieve therapeutic goals specific to the patient. For one patient it may be primarily to minimize or distract from pain, for another it could be to alleviate feelings of isolation and foster companionship and connection. There is a range pet therapy goals to address the range of unique patients.
While pet therapy is a great complementary therapy option for many patients, it is critical to understand that some patients may have allergies, phobias, or severe infection risk. Pet therapy should also only be used if safety measures are in place to minimize any potential health risks. The pet therapy provider also must only use trained, certified animals. These animals undergo rigorous training to ensure they are obedient and capable of providing therapy.
At Remembrance Hospice, we offer pet therapy as a comfort care option along with other traditional and alternative therapies. We offer palliative care and hospice care in Medina, Ohio and surrounding communities. Feel free to call us to learn more about our services.