Pet therapy statistics show that felines and canines are the most frequently used animals in pet therapy. However, pigs, horses, and even fish can be beneficial too.
If you have ever been wondering what the figures show about this alternative treatment method, then you are in luck. This article will be all about the most mind-boggling stats and facts about animal therapy on the web.
So, let’s dive right in!
Top 10 Animal Therapy Statistics
- There are more than 50,000 therapy dogs in the US.
- 71% of pet owners know their pets can improve both physical and mental health.
- There was a surge in therapy dog adoption during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- 93% of animal owners say veterans with PTSD should have a service animal.
- CHLA had to move its animal therapy program online due to COVID.
- 48% of service dogs help patients with mobility.
- The therapeutic properties of riding horses date back to 600 BC in Greece.
- Senior pet owners report 30% fewer calls for medical treatment.
- 88% of pet owners know that pets can reduce stress levels in humans.
- 2% of surveyed Millennials with pets experienced mental health improvements.
Now that you’ve seen the most important figures let’s move on to the stats!
General Animal–Assisted Therapy Statistics
What is animal–assisted therapy? Animal-assisted therapy, or pet therapy, is an ancient practice used to help people recover from or manage different mental illnesses or health issues such as hypertension and cancer.
Here are some impressive stats!
1. 71% of surveyed pet owners know their pets can improve both physical and mental health.
The CRG and the HABRI conducted a survey involving 2,000 animal owners. The research found that the majority of participants know that pet ownership helps with mental and physical health.
Still, animal–assisted therapy statistics reveal that merely 54% of them reported signs of improvement thanks to animal-assisted physical therapy.
2. Moreover, 80% of these pet owners spend a large portion of the day with their animal companions.
On the other hand, 71% of pet owners who were unaware of these health benefits did the same. Overall, 77% of animal owners firmly believe that their companions benefit from interactions with their owners as well.
3. 61% of animal owners would visit a vet more often if the human-animal bond and its health benefits were discussed more.
Animal therapy facts show that only 25% of Millennials respondents discussed the health benefits of owning a pet with their vet.
The percentage is even lower for respondents belonging to Generation X (16%) and Baby Boomers (6%).
4. An impressive 93% of animal owners claim that veterans with PTSD should be provided service animals by the government.
Furthermore, 87% of respondents would buy products from businesses that were pet-friendly. Additionally, 58% of animal owners claim they should be allowed to bring their pets to work.
5. According to animal-assisted therapy statistics from 2018, remarkable improvements were noted in pain levels and irritation following therapy with pets.
A study analyzed 24 children with solid tumors and leukemia and the effect of animal-assisted therapy. Children were aged 6 to 12, and 58% of them were girls.
The research used two canines — a golden retriever and a Labrador retriever. The children participated in different activities like gait training, socialization, and sensory stimulation.
The results showed a decrease in irritation, stress, and pain and a slight improvement in the symptoms of depression.
6. Animal-assisted therapy statistics from 2019 reveal that patients with brain injury displayed increased social behavior during AAT.
Scientists conducted a study with 19 patients undergoing neurorehabilitation due to brain injury. They found that patients displayed a noteworthy increase in social behavior after receiving both traditional therapy sessions and animal-assisted therapy sessions.
Additionally, the participants showed an increase in mood, overall satisfaction, and positive emotions in the presence of a friendly animal.
7. American animal-assisted therapy statistics from 2020 reveal that there are currently 4.28 million people in the workforce, with the number growing by 4.06%.
The future of animal-assisted therapy seems bright. The number of animal-assisted therapy workers is growing. However, in 2017, merely 35 degrees were awarded in total, displaying a decline of 14.6%.
Also, an employee’s average age is 42.8, whereas the average wage is $75,291 (growing by 1.55%).
8. Numerous animal-assisted therapy research papers reveal that therapy with animals helps reduce pain-induced insomnia.
A clinical trial from 2019 analyzed the effects animal-assisted therapy had on improving pain awareness in polymedicated geriatric patients suffering from chronic joint pain.
The trial included 52 patients. 90.4% of which were women, and the average age was 77.50. The research found that animal-assisted therapy helped reduce the awareness of pain, as well as pain-induced insomnia.
This children’s hospital has been known for its fantastic animal therapy program for years. The program has 127 dog-patient teams. Dogs help children during physical therapy. They also help ease kids’ anxiety before surgery or relax them during check-ups.
Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the hospital couldn’t go on with the program. Luckily, they switched to online therapy sessions, which gave pretty good results.
The Latest Therapy Dog Statistics and Facts
Dogs are the most common therapy animals. And you can guess the reason. They provide us with comfort, affection, and unconditional love.
10. There are more than 50,000 therapy dogs in the US.
Therapy dogs are trained canines certified by different corporations to help patients with various mental and physical illnesses. As a result, they’re used in a medical setting by occupational and physical therapists to help patients meet their recovery goals.
The overall dog adoption numbers have jumped during the Covid-19 lockdown. There was an exceptionally high demand for therapy puppies. The pandemic, lockdown, and attending school online, this period was especially hard on kids.
Marshall business owner Cindy Brosig has been helping kids and their dogs. Brosing assisted in connecting the dogs and kids as a form of animal-assisted therapy.
12. Therapy dog facts reveal canine-assisted psychotherapy is beneficial for adolescents suffering from mental health problems.
The study, published in 2019, tried to identify the impact of canine-assisted psychotherapy on mentally ill adolescents. It analyzed their tolerability, feasibility, and acceptability.
The results were positive. They showed a considerable increase in socialization and engagement behaviors and a reduction in disorderly conduct.
13. Therapy dogs are appropriately nicknamed “comfort dogs.”
The reason behind this cute nickname is that therapy dogs support an individual’s mental wellbeing by providing ultimate comfort and unconditional love.
The best thing about “comfort dogs” is that practically anyone can enjoy their presence. Be they young, old, healthy, or sick.
14. Age-old facts about therapy dogs reveal that golden retrievers are the most commonly used breed.
As long as it’s good-natured, any breed can become a therapy dog with some training. However, the most frequent breeds include standard poodles, Labradors, and St. Bernards.
Tiny breeds, such as the Pomeranian, also make excellent therapy dogs due to their friendly temperament.
15. Therapy canines in school classrooms reduce stress and promote a positive atmosphere, according to recent therapy dog research.
(We Are Teachers, NCBI)
According to some recent findings, even petting a dog can lower blood pressure and reduce heart rate.
Findings also reveal that the psychophysiological and psychological effects in the human body happen due to oxytocin activation. The hormone is also known as the “love hormone” or the “cuddle hormone.”
By reducing stress and anxiety in the classroom, children are more likely to focus on their assignments.
16. Some therapy dogs have been out of work for more than six months because of the Covid-19.
Many people lost their jobs because of the Coronavirus outbreak. But the pandemic affected some working animals, too.
Some therapy and comfort dogs were sidelined and out of a job for more than six months because of social distancing. Luckily, they’re slowly getting back to spreading love again.
Service Dog Statistics
Both service and therapy dogs are fantastic helpers. However, there’s one main difference between a service dog and a therapy dog.
A service dog helps disabled patients, such as those with a seizure disorder, diabetes, and visual impairments. A therapy dog is an expert in providing people with affection and comfort in schools, retirement homes, hospitals, and other facilities.
17. There are an estimated 500,000 service dogs in the US ready for duty.
(Share America, Canine Journal)
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, these puppies can go anywhere their handler needs to go.
18. According to pet therapy facts, 48% of service dogs help patients with mobility.
(Assistance Dogs International)
Another 23% of service dogs help patients with autism, while 19% help veterans suffering from PTSD. Additionally, 4% are diabetic alert service dogs, while 2.5% are seizure service dogs.
In total, there were 16,766 assistant dogs in 2018 in the ADI Oceania Region, ADI North America Region, and Non-Regions. Whereas there were 10,845 assistant dogs in the ADEU Region.
Equine Therapy Facts
As we mentioned, dogs and cats may be the most common therapy animals, but horses are equally efficient.
19. The therapeutic properties of riding horses date back to 600 BC in Greece.
(The Anxiety Treatment Center)
Equine therapy was immensely popular in ancient Greece. It was also popular later in Scandinavia in 1946 following the poliomyelitis outbreak.
With the creation of the Community Association of Riding of the Disabled, riding as a form of therapy was introduced to Canada and America in 1960.
20. The two main reasons horses are perfect therapeutic animals are their ability to be completely unbiased and mirroring.
(The Anxiety Treatment Center, Horse Properties)
Pet therapy research suggests equine therapy is exceptionally effective in treating patients with a wide array of disorders as horses can be non-judgmental and patient.
Furthermore, horses are sensitive and observant creatures. They provide the patient with quick feedback, helping them be more aware of themselves.
Interestingly, the equine population in Texas is nearly 1 million. Due to the popular cowboy lifestyle, the Lone Star State has almost 300,000 more horses than the runner-up — California.
Benefits of Owning a Pet Statistics
Unconditional love and comfort aren’t the only benefits pets provide. Pet ownership brings many health benefits, as well. Here are the most interesting.
21. Senior pet owners report 30% fewer calls for medical treatment than seniors who don’t own pets.
(Harbor Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center)
This number shows that pets are incredibly beneficial for reducing stress in senior pet owners. Not only that, but pet ownership can also help save money spent on expensive medical bills.
22. 88% of pet owners know that pets can reduce stress levels in humans.
Pet therapy statistics reveal that 86% of participants are aware pets can reduce depression. Moreover, 80% were aware of its healing effects on people with PTSD. Another 60% were aware that pet ownership is excellent for people suffering from heart-related conditions too.
23. Only 62% of surveyed Millennials experienced mental health improvements due to owning a pet, compared to 83% of Baby Boomers.
74% of surveyed pet owners claimed to have experienced improved mental health from owning a pet, according to pet therapy statistics. Moreover, 55% of surveyed individuals claimed that a family member or a friend experienced improved physical health from owning a pet.
24. After discovering the health benefits of pet ownership, 92% of animal owners are more likely to take care of their pet’s overall health.
This means that almost all surveyed individuals are more likely to take their pets to get preventative vaccines and medicine. Additionally, 88% of animal owners are more likely to care for their pet’s nutritional needs. Whereas 51% are more likely to consider getting health insurance for their companion.
25. How did animal–assisted therapy begin?
Few people know that animal-assisted therapy started with the Ancient Greeks around 600 BC.
According to the history of animal-assisted therapy, the Greeks first used horses as therapy animals, as they proved to be highly effective in uplifting the mood of the seriously ill.
In the 1800s, a researcher, Florence Nightingale, led to different experiments that involved the interaction between humans and animals. This eventually resulted in the development of the Human-Animal Bond theory.
Most importantly, Dr. Boris Levinson is credited with the first research and therapeutic work on the topic. In short, in therapy sessions, Levinson found that pet dogs benefit young, impaired patients.
26. What are the benefits of animal therapy?
It has been shown that interacting with a pet can aid in various mental and physical issues such as insomnia and anxiety disorder. Some of the many benefits of animal-assisted therapy include:
- Stress reduction
- Pain alleviation
- Reduced blood pressure, and
- Improved mental state.
Additionally, pet therapy helps with:
- Improving joint movement and motor skills
- Developing social skills
- Increasing motivation for exercise
- Decreasing isolation and loneliness, and
- Helping kids develop nurturing and empathic skills.
27. How does pet therapy relieve stress?
One of the biggest benefits of pet therapy is the reduction of stress and anxiety levels. When interacting with a friendly animal, the human brain releases “feel-good” chemicals called endorphins that make the patient feel relaxed and more at peace.
Hence, interacting with a pet can produce the same effects as eating a piece of dark chocolate or squeezing in a workout. By activating the opioid receptors found in the nervous system, endorphins produce euphoria.
28. Who can benefit from animal–assisted therapy?
Due to its healing effects, pet therapy is excellent for:
- Kids requiring dental procedures
- Cancer patients
- Heart disease patients
- Dementia patients
- Patients with chronic pain
- Patients with behavioral and emotional illnesses
- Individuals trying to overcome opioid addiction, etc.
However, pet therapy is also used in community programs and universities to help individuals cope with stress and anxiety.
The success rate of animal-assisted therapy depends entirely on setting attainable goals and finally reaching them. We hope these pet therapy statistics were eye-opening in deciding whether animal-assisted therapy is the right choice for you.
Whatever the case, it’s a highly effective therapy, and we recommend you give it a shot. Companion animals and mental health, as well as physical health, go hand in hand. Hence, you can always recommend it to a friend or a loved one.
- Assistance Dogs International
- Canine Journal
- Data USA
- Harbor Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center
- Horse Properties
- Mayo Clinic
- National Geographic
- NBC Boston
- Psychology Today
- Share America
- The Anxiety Treatment Center
- Therapy Dogs
- Verywell Mind
- We Are Teachers