Animal-assisted therapy or pet therapy is a guided interaction between a trained animal and a person which aims to help people better cope with health problems. Dogs and cats are most often used for animal assisted therapy. Dog walking in some studies and preliminary trials have shown that contact with pets can lower high blood pressure and also lower complication risk among patients with cardiovascular disease.  Contact with pets can also help relieve stress, lessen depression and anxiety, provide comfort and bring smiles.

Animal and human interaction as companions dates back many centuries. The first known therapeutic use of animals started in Geel, Belgium in the ninth century where a farm focused on helping disabled people by allowing them to work with the farm animals for their treatment. Over the years we have realized the great potential this therapy has to offer and many medical and non-medical institutions offer pet therapy. UCLA People-Animal connection programs is one of the most comprehensive Animal-Assisted Therapy and Activity programs in the country offering companionship to thousands of children and adults since its inception in 1994.

Disclaimer: The UCLA Health System cannot guarantee the accuracy of such information. The information is provided without warranty or guarantee of any kind. Please speak to your Physician before making any changes.