What is it?
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) involves using trained animals to help people cope with or recover from different health conditions.
AAT might help reduce stress and promote relaxation. It might also reduce feelings of loneliness. AAT that involves physical touch might stimulate pleasure in the brain. This seems to promote relaxation and well-being. AAT might also work by distracting patients from pain and activating comforting thoughts.
People use AAT for anxiety. It is also used for pain, muscle strength, dementia, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
Is it effective?
Possibly Effective for …
- Anxiety. A single session of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) reduces anxiety in adults and children. Dogs are the most common animal used in AAT for anxiety. It’s not clear if AAT helps reduce anxiety long-term.
There is interest in using AAT for a number of other purposes, but there isn’t enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Is there concern for the safety of its use?
Some people might be allergic to certain animals used in AAT. There have also been reports of animals carrying diseases that have been transmitted to patients. Animals used for AAT should always be screened by a veterinarian.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn’t enough reliable information to know if AAT is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. But there’s no reason to suspect safety concerns when used correctly.
Children: AAT is likely safe when used appropriately.
Are there any drug interactions?
Are there any interactions with herbs and supplements?
Are there any interactions with food?
What dose is used?
AAT is used in mental health treatment sessions, group therapy, recreation therapy, activity therapy, and day-treatment programs. Seek and follow relevant directions from your physician or other healthcare professional before using this treatment.
By what other names is the product known?
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