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Pet therapy
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • AAA, AAT, animal-assisted activities, animal-assisted therapy, animals in human therapy, canine visitation therapy, companion animal therapy, CVT, pet-assisted therapy, pet-facilitated therapy.

Background

  • Animal companionship has been used as an informal source of comfort and relief of suffering across cultures throughout history.
  • For over 40 years, pet therapy has been a subject of serious study for nursing and other healthcare disciplines concerned with emotional well-being and quality of life.
  • Pet therapy is used with people of all ages, but particularly with children and the elderly.
  • Pet therapy offers psychological benefits in terms of emotional connection, stress reduction, and reduced feelings of loneliness or isolation.
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Theory

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Evidence

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Safety

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.

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Author Information

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References

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 www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.