What is pet therapy?

There is a lot of misconceptions surrounding ‘pet therapy’ and so we believe we should share at least the basics of the different kinds of animal-assisted interactions that are available.


This provides opportunities for motivation, education, or recreation to enhance quality of life. Animal assisted activities are delivered in a variety of environments with animals that meet specific criteria.

Example: This has included but is not limited to a visit to the kids living in a women’s shelter (many having had to leave pets behind) and a weekly visit to an elderly relative (organised as a surprise by their family) as he had lost his dog to old age and didn’t feel well enough to get another but missed his dog terribly.


This is a planned and structured intervention directed and/or delivered by educational and related service professional with specific academic or educational goals. We are there to provide opportunities to motivate or enhance learning.

Example: This has included but is not limited to visiting a family who wanted to get a family pet but they didn’t know what was best. We visited and they got to handle different animals and ask questions and get advice on their potential new family member.


This is a goal directed intervention in which an animal meeting specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. Animal-assisted therapy is delivered and/or directed by health or human service providers working within the scope of their profession. Animal-assisted therapy is designed to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, or cognitive function. Animal-assisted therapy is provided in a variety of settings, and may be group or individual in nature. The process is documented and evaluated.

Example: This has included a weekly dog walk for a lady who had a hip replacement, a way of helping a kid with their physio exercises and visits to hospices and care homes.

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