Pet Therapy in Maryland - What is pet therapy?

Article Index

What is pet therapy?

Pet therapy, or animal-assisted therapy, uses trained animals and their handlers to improve a person's physical, emotional, cognitive, or social functioning. The animals, which must meet strict standards and be certified, typically visit patients in hospitals, residents in nursing homes, inmates in prisons, and children in schools and libraries. Dogs are the most common therapy animals—you might see them at hospitals being escorted from room to room by their handlers. But cats, rabbits, and birds also serve as therapy animals. And don't underestimate the healing power of horses.

"Every interaction with pets is beneficial to people," says Susan Longo, a veterinarian at Bay Ridge Animal Hospital, Annapolis. "Pets love unconditionally, and they don't expect anything in return. Hugging a dog or petting a purring cat provides a great sense of comfort. Children really respond to animals and form a close bond with them. This relationship can help them deal with physical or emotional issues. Pet therapy is truly amazing. It can open so many doors and has the power to change lives."

© 2018 Chesapeake Family Life. All Rights Reserved.