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.
Although felines and canines are the most frequently used animals in pet therapy, pigs, horses, and even fish can be beneficial as well. If you have ever been wondering what the figures show about this alternative method of treatment, then you are in luck; this article will be all about the most mind-boggling pet therapy statistics on the web.
So, let’s dive right in!
Top 10 Statistics About Pet Therapy
- 61% of animal owners would visit a vet more often if the human-animal bond and its health benefits were discussed more.
- An impressive 93% of animal owners claim that veterans with PTSD should be provided service animals by the government.
- More than 50,000 therapy dogs exist in the US.
- Therapy canines in school classrooms reduce stress in the body and promote a positive atmosphere, according to therapy dog research.
- There are an estimated 500,000 service dogs in the US ready for duty.
- Equine statistics reveal that the therapeutic properties of riding horses date back to 600 BC in Greece.
- Senior pet owners reported 30% fewer calls for medical treatment, compared to those seniors who do not own pets.
- 88% of pet owners are knowledgeable about pets being able to reduce stress levels in humans.
- Only 62% of surveyed Millennials experienced improvements in mental health due to owning a pet, compared to 83% of Baby Boomers.
- Upon being educated on the health benefits of pet ownership, 92% of animal owners are more likely to take care of their pet’s overall health.
General Animal–Assisted Therapy Statistics
1. 71% of surveyed pet owners are aware of the fact that pet ownership can improve both physical and mental health.
A 2016 survey involving 2,000 animal owners, conducted by Cohen Research Group and The Human-Animal Bond Research Institute, found that the majority of participants have indeed heard about the fact that pet ownership helps with mental and physical health.
Still, merely 54% of them reported signs of improvement thanks to animal-assisted physical therapy.
2. Animal–assisted therapy statistics also show that 80% of animal owners who knew about the positive effects of pet ownership (on health) reported spending a large portion of the day with their furry companions.
On the other hand, 71% of them who were unaware of these health benefits did the same. Overall, 77% of animal owners firmly believe that their companions also 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.
Interestingly enough, animal therapy facts show that merely 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%), as well as for 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 more gladly purchase products from businesses that were pet-friendly. Additionally, 58% of animal owners claim that 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 from 2018 analyzed 24 children (aged 6 to 12) with solid tumors and leukemia (58% of them were girls) and the effect of animal-assisted therapy.
The research used two canines, a golden retriever and a Labrador retriever, and involved the children in different activities like gait training, socialization, and sensory stimulation. The results showed a decrease in irritation, stress, and pain, as well as a slight improvement in the symptoms of depression.
6. Animal-assisted therapy statistics from 2019 reveal that patients with brain injury displayed increased amounts of social behavior during AAT.
A study analyzing 19 patients undergoing neurorehabilitation due to brain injury found that, after receiving both traditional therapy sessions and animal-assisted therapy sessions, these patients displayed a noteworthy increase in social behavior.
Additionally, when in the presence of a friendly animal, the study participants displayed an increase in mood, overall satisfaction, and positive emotions.
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. Still, even though the number of animal-assisted therapy workers is growing, in 2017, merely 35 degrees were awarded in total, displaying a decline of 14.6%.
In addition, the average age of an employee 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, which included 52 patients (90.4% were women and the average age was 77.50), found that animal-assisted therapy helped reduce the awareness of pain, as well as pain-induced insomnia.
The Latest Therapy Dog Statistics and Facts
9. More than 50,000 therapy dogs exist in the US.
Therapy dogs are trained canines that are also certified by different corporations to help patients with a variety of different mental and physical illnesses.
As a result, they are used in a medical setting by occupational and physical therapists to help patients meet their goals for recovery.
10. Therapy dog facts reveal that 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 by analyzing their tolerability, feasibility, and acceptability.
The results were positive, showing a considerable increase in socialization and engagement behaviors, as well as a reduction in disorderly behavior.
11. Therapy dogs are appropriately nicknamed “comfort dogs.”
The reason behind this cute nickname is that therapy pooches 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.
12. Age-old facts about therapy dogs reveal that golden retrievers are the most commonly used breed.
Even though any breed, as long as it is good-natured can become a therapy dog, with some training, the most frequent ones placed in this respective role are standard poodles, Labradors, and St. Bernards. Tiny breeds, such as the Pomeranian, also make great therapy dogs due to their friendly temperament.
13. Therapy canines in school classrooms reduce stress and promote a positive atmosphere, according to recent therapy dog research.
(We Are Teachers, NCBI)
According to the findings of a study by the National Institutes of Health, even petting a canine can help 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 — also called the “love hormone” or the “cuddle hormone.”
By reducing stress and anxiety in the classroom, children are more likely to focus on their respective assignments.
Service Dog Statistics
14. There are an estimated 500,000 service dogs in the US ready for duty.
(Share America, Canine Journal)
The main difference between a service dog and a therapy dog is that a service dog helps disabled patients, such as those with a seizure disorder, diabetes, and visual impairments, whereas a therapy dog is an expert in providing people with affection and comfort in schools, retirement homes, hospitals, and other facilities.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, these pooches can go anywhere their handler needs to go.
15. According to pet therapy facts from 2018, 48% of service dogs help patients with mobility.
(Assistance Dogs International)
Another 23% of all service dogs help patients with autism, while 19% help veterans suffering from PTSD. In addition, merely 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 in the ADEU Region there were 10,845 assistant dogs.
Equine Therapy Facts
16. 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, and 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.
17. The two main reasons why horses make for perfect therapeutic animals is due to their ability to be completely unbiased and mirroring.
(The Anxiety Treatment Center, Horse Properties)
Pet therapy research suggests that equine therapy is extremely effective in treating patients with a wide array of disorders as horses have the ability to be non-judgmental and patient.
Furthermore, horses are sensitive and observant creatures that provide the patient with quick feedback, helping the patient be more aware of themselves. Interestingly, the equine population in Texas is nearly 1 million, which is almost 300,000 more than the second-most state of California, due to the popular cowboy lifestyle.
Benefits of Owning a Pet Statistics
18. Senior pet owners reported 30% fewer calls for medical treatment, compared to those seniors who do not own pets.
This percentage points to the fact that pets are extremely beneficial for reducing stress in senior pet owners. Not only that, but pet ownership can also help save money spent on expensive medical bills.
19. 88% of pet owners are knowledgeable about pets being able to reduce stress levels in humans.
Pet therapy statistics from 2016 found that 86% of participants were aware that pets can reduce instances of depression, whereas 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.
20. Only 62% of surveyed Millennials experienced improvements in mental health 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.
21. Upon being educated on 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 of the 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.
22. How did animal–assisted therapy begin?
(Therapy Dogs, Pdresources.org)
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, eventually resulting in the development of the Human-Animal Bond theory. Most importantly, Dr. Boris Levinson is credited with the first research and therapeutic work done on the topic. In short, in therapy sessions, Levinson found that pet dogs are beneficial for young, impaired patients.
23. 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 the reduction of stress, alleviation of pain, reduced blood pressure, and an overall improved mental state.
Additionally, therapy with pets 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.
24. 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.
25. Who can benefit from animal–assisted therapy?
Due to its healing effects, pet therapy is excellent for the following types of patients:
- 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 not only used in medical settings but also in community programs and universities to help individuals cope with stress and anxiety.
All in all, the success rate of animal-assisted therapy entirely depends on setting attainable goals and finally reaching them. We hope that these pet therapy statistics were eye-opening in deciding whether animal-assisted therapy is the right choice for you or not.
Whatever the case, it is considered a highly effective therapy and we recommend you give it a shot. In short, 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.