Benefits of Animal Therapy



April 4, 2022

Our family pets are great for love and companionship; however, they’re capable of so much more. While we do a whole lot for our pets, they can also do a lot for humans! Our beloved animals can help us through our needs, both mental and physical, with animal-assisted therapy.

Our team at Bivvy has provided some insights on how therapy animals can help better your life. Read on to learn more!

What is animal therapy?

Animal therapy is a type of therapy that uses animals to help individuals cope and recover from medical conditions, including both physical and mental. Animals can provide comfort, alert others if someone’s in danger or may even directly assist with a person’s condition. These animals are not meant to replace other treatments but enhance them.

Therapy animals can easily be confused with service animals; however, there are some key differences. A service animal is trained to perform tasks for those with disabilities, while a therapy pet is trained to provide affection and comfort to those in need. Therapy animals are not the same as service animals, as therapy pets live with their owners and are regular pets, while service animals stay with their patient all the time. Therapy animals are not service animals and are not afforded the same all-access privileges, but both work to better the lives of their patients or owners.

How does it work?

There are different types of animal therapy that are determined by an individual’s needs; thus, animal therapy works differently for everyone.

Here are three basic types of pet therapy used:

  1. Therapeutic visitation. This is the most common type of pet therapy. With therapeutic visitation, owners take their personal pets to visit health care facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, detention facilities and rehabilitation facilities.
  2. Animal-assisted therapy. With this type of therapy, animals are specially trained to help physical and occupational therapists with their patients. This typically takes place in a rehabilitation facility. The tasks they may help with include gaining motion in limbs, fine motor control or regaining pet care skills for caring for their family pet at home.
  3. Facility therapy. This involves therapy pets who reside at care centers and are trained to engage with those suffering with mental illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s. Their job is to help keep patients safe. These therapy animals typically live at the facility to monitor patients.


What kind of animals can be used in animal therapy?

Various animal species can be used in animal-assisted therapy; however, each animal is evaluated with a strict criteria before being used. Some factors that are considered are the animal’s age, size, behavior and level of training.

Here are a few animals that are commonly used for animal therapy:

If you own a therapy or emotional support dog or cat, make sure to protect them with Bivvy! Our beloved animals lend us a helping hand in our times of need, which is why they should be protected with the affordable pet insurance.

Who can benefit?

Those with mental illnesses or those who struggle with their mental health can benefit from animal-assisted therapy. It has been shown that animal-assisted therapies may help with decreasing anxiety and stress, decreasing perceptions of pain, reducing feelings of fear or worry, increasing feelings of social support and providing motivation, stimulation and focus. Animals have been assisting mental health professionals for decades to help individuals get better and manage their illnesses! Check out our blog to read more on how pets can boost our mental health.

Animal therapy may also be beneficial to those who suffer from physical conditions. Epilepsy, heart failure, pain from cancer treatment, postoperative recover and recovery after a major stroke or other condition that causes a loss of motor skills are all examples of physical conditions that pet therapy can assist with. Those in long-term care facilities can also benefit, as it’s been found that animal therapy can improve the mood and general well-being of individuals.

How is animal therapy administrated?

Typically, doctors or therapists will recommend a therapy animal to you. Many organizations and groups train and connect animal therapy handlers and pair them with health care providers to make the process a bit easier. Before engaging with the patient, the handler and the animal have to meet certain requirements such as receiving proper immunizations, obedience training courses for the animal, instructional courses for the handler, an evaluation of both the handler and the pet and a certification from the sponsoring organization.

After a therapy animal and their handler has been approved and met all of their requirements, they are then paired to an individual based on their specific needs.

Are there risks?

While animal therapy is a great option for some, it might not be the best fit for everyone. Those who are not fond of animals should steer clear of this type of therapy, as it can increase their stress level. Individuals who have a weak or compromised immune system should also take into consideration that pets may carry infectious diseases before diving into pet therapy.

Interested in getting involved with an animal therapy program? Check out these resources to get started:


Our pets do so much for us. Show them some love in return by covering them with Bivvy pet insurance! Our affordable dog insurance and cat insurance can bring you peace-of-mind should your pet have an accident or illness. Plus, with simple and easy to understand terms you can avoid any surprises at claim time.