Hospice Pet Therapy

Pets have a history of providing faithful companionship and showing unconditional love for humans. This creates a powerful emotional bond that has a very positive effect. Communication between humans and animals occurs on a deeper, more primitive level than the spoken word. Simply cuddling or petting an animal can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and ease depression.  Because a primary goal of hospice services is comfort care, Pet Therapy is an ideal option for providing comfort to patients who often feel isolated.

How Animals Interact with Hospice Patients during Visits

Pet therapy is a guided interaction between a person and a trained animal. It also involves the animal’s handler. Animals interact with hospice patients during visits – individualized – per the patient’s comfort level.

Pet therapy is also referred to as animal-assisted therapy (AAT). AAT is sometimes confused with animal-assisted activities (AAA). AAT is a formal, structured set of sessions that helps people reach specific goals in their treatment. AAA involves more casual meetings in which an animal and its handler interact with one or more people for comfort or recreation.

Physical Benefits of Hospice Pet Therapy

It’s well-known (and scientifically proven) that interaction with a gentle, friendly pet has significant benefits.
  • lowers blood pressure
  • improves cardiovascular health
  • releases endorphins (oxytocin) that have a calming effect
  • diminishes overall physical pain
  • the act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response, reducing the amount of medication some folks need

Social and Emotional Benefits of Hospice Pet Therapy -  Lifts Spirits and Lessens Depression

  • decreases feelings of isolation and alienation

  • encourages communication

  • provides comfort

  • increases socialization

  • reduces boredom

  • lowers anxiety

  • reduces loneliness


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