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Why does animal therapy work?

Why does animal therapy work?


It is a bewitching fact of life that there is an emotional bond between humans and animals, but why?

An animal can help patients with Alzheimer’s Disease recall past events, especially those involving animals.

Cognitive abilities are specifically affected in these patients, which is why the animal is beneficial. It stimulates the patient on an emotional level, where he feels most at ease.

The animal provides stimulation; this captures the person’s attention and maintains his contact with reality.
The soft presence of the animal places the patient in a calming and soothing state of mind, which is very important for people with a tendency to react aggressively.

The animal allows a patient to be stimulated emotionally, rather than intellectually.

Originally published here.

The Douglas Institute has been a pioneer in the field of animal-assisted therapy. In fact, it was the first health institution in Quebec to create an integrated zootherapy program in 1985. Thirty years later, the service continues to effectively help patients.

Animal-assisted therapy, or zootherapy, is used in the care of children, teenagers, adults, and elderly people affected by mental health problems. Although it doesn’t constitute a cure, it is a recognized and effective element of the therapeutic process because it can provide the patient with a sense of psychological as well as physical well-being.


Raymond Plouffe
Animal-Assisted Therapy Program
Douglas Institute – Porteous Pavillion
514 761-6131, poste 2135

To read more about specific training for in-home therapy dogs, click here, Dementia Dogs, In-Home Care and Street Guide.

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