Pet therapy statistics show the fantastic influence animals have on our mental and physical health. It has helped many people who struggle with traditional therapies.

To help you understand pet therapy and its benefits, we’ve gathered the most interesting stats and facts about it. 

Little Known Pet Therapy Facts

  • 74% of pet owners say their mental health improved because of their animals.
  • The US has over 500,000 service animals that help physical and mental ailments.
  • There are over 50,000 trained therapy dogs in the US.
  • Petting a pup can stabilize your blood pressure.
  • 20% of US children need help with their mental health.
  • Over 60% of US colleges have a pet therapy program.
  • 81.8% of children with ASD prefer to play with animals over toys.
  • 60% of US hospice providers use complementary pet therapies.

Animal Assisted Therapy Statistics

Using animals in therapy has been around for centuries. But in the last few decades, more studies have revealed the effect animals have on us. Let’s have a look at how these incredible creatures help. 

1. 74% Of Pet Owners Say Their Mental Health Improved Because of Animals.

(Source: Web MD)

  • The US has over 500,000 service animals. 
  • Depressed patients can struggle with isolation and the desire to go out. So a pup is among the best options to get them out and socialize with others. A solid social circle can increase life expectancy by 50%.
  • Pet therapy statistics in psychology show that animals release oxytocin in the human brain. It’s the love hormone that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Thankfully, there are over 50,000 trained therapy dogs in the US. 

But that’s not all. Pets can help other illnesses, too.

2. Petting a Pup Can Stabilize Your Blood Pressure.

(Source: Paws for People)

  • Owning a pet can even reduce your risk of heart attack and disease. 
  • For those who suffer from anxiety, interacting with an animal can decrease their heavy breathing. Calm dog breeds are a great option.
  • Animals can also reduce our pain. A 2009 London study found that patients with total joint replacement needed 50% less pain medication with canine therapy. 

Let’s have a look at what pets can do for children. 

Statistics of Children Using Pet Therapy

Let’s have a look at how pet therapy might help children with learning disabilities or mental illness.

3. 20% of US Children Need Help With Their Mental Health.

(Source: Journal of Pediatric Nursing) 

  • Out of those, 20% will receive the needed treatment. 
  • Hospitalizations are incredibly stressful for kids since they don’t understand what’s happening. Besides, MRIs can be near impossible. But 90.4% of children completed their MRIs successfully after animal-assisted interventions.
  • Sexually abused children suffer terrible anxiety. But having an animal during a forensic interview helps their stress, lowers blood pressure, and makes them open up much more.

But that’s not all. Therapy dog statistics show a decrease in children’s mental health disorders. 

4. PTSD Animal Therapy Works Brilliantly for Children.

(Source: Dominican University of California)

  • Between 3%–15% of girls and 1%–6% of boys will develop PTSD in their childhood.
  • US children’s services report incidents involving 5.5 million a year. Of those, 30% experience abuse.
  • Also, 65% are neglected, 18% physically abused, 10% sexually abused, and 7% mentally abused.

So it’s no surprise that pet therapy helps with children’s anxiety. 

Small girl holding onto a large German Shepherd

Statistics on Pet Therapy for College Students

College is a new and often scary experience for most students. Let’s have a look at some stats that give the whole picture.

5. In 2019, 65.7% of US College Students Felt Overwhelming Anxiety in the Last Year.

(Source: American College Health Association)

  • In 2019, 55.9% of college students felt hopeless in the last year. 
  • Also, a staggering 87.4% felt overwhelmed by their tasks. Sadly, 65.6% felt very lonely. 
  • Over 60% of US colleges have a pet therapy program.

But let’s see if animal therapy statistics improved these students’ lives.

6. Around 96% Of College Students Are in Favor of Pet Therapy on Campus.

(Source: Modern Psychological Studies)

  • Countless studies between 1994–2019 found pet therapy very successful for reducing depression, homesickness, stress, loneliness, and anxiety in college students. 
  • Plus, it helped with participation and compliance. Students in pet therapy programs had a zero dropout rate. It’s a massive improvement compared to the undergraduate level with a 40% dropout rate
  • Students are 94% more likely to seek out mental help with pet therapy than traditional one-on-one counseling.

Pet therapy statistics for college students show promising success. What about people with other medical conditions? 

Pet Therapy and Autism Statistics

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) includes a broad range of conditions that cause social and behavioral issues, particularly with verbal and nonverbal communication.

7. ASD Will Affect 1 in 54 US Children.

(Source: Autism Speaks) 

  • ASD treatments are few and far between, but some help to alleviate the severity. And one of those is pet therapy. 
  • People with ASD can struggle to form relationships with others. That depends on the disease severity, but over 50% of them share this symptom.
  • Doctors tried pet therapy to see if autistic people will form bonds with animals easier since there’s no need for verbal communication. And ASD patients reacted fantastically to animals in their surroundings.

Let’s dive deeper into pet therapy facts for people with ASD.

8. 81.8% Of Children With ASD Prefer To Play With Animals Over Toys. 

(Source: Public Library of Science)

  • Studies have shown that ASD children are much more relaxed around and communicate better with animals. There are some wonderful family-friendly dog breeds if you’re looking to invite a fluffy friend into your home.
  • An eight-week study of guinea pigs around 64 children with ASD showed increased social behavior like talking and physical contact. 
  • Using smaller animals like guinea pigs is quite a recent alternative. Children with ASD have had great success with horses, but you can’t bring those into the classroom. 

Now, let’s turn to pet therapy statistics of success in domestic violence victims. 

Three black retrievers sitting together, the middle dog has a service vest on

Pet Therapy Statistics — Domestic Violence Victims

Domestic violence is a cycle of abuse that brings suffering to the entire household. 

9. 71% of Domestic Violence Survivors Said the Pets Were Threatened or Abused.

(Source: Humane Society) 

  • Also, 88% of abused children come from homes where animal abuse takes place. 
  • It has led to 32% of children abusing animals at home.
  • 48% of survivors said leaving or losing their pets is why they stayed in the home for so long. 

Animal-assisted therapy statistics show that pets and domestic abuse go hand in hand. It’s so common that police investigate people found guilty of pet abuse. And that’s saved countless victims. But both pets and humans need rehabilitation, so how can therapy animals help? 

10. Trauma Patients Have a Much Easier Time With Animal Assisted Therapy.

(Source: Department of Sociology, Saint Leo University, Florida) 

  • Domestic violence survivors often struggle to open up in traditional therapy, especially if sexual violence is involved. Animals in therapy have shown a dramatic improvement in survivors speaking about their issues. 
  • Pet therapy statistics show that abuse victims trust their therapist or counselor much quicker with an animal present, especially if it’s a dog.
  • Many of these positives come from dogs’ emotional intelligence. They understand humans on a different level, knowing when to help and when to back away instinctually. 

Emotional support animals gained incredible popularity over the last decade. Now, there’s more acceptance of animal support and the positive impact it can have on patients. There are more than 65,000 emotional support animals in the US

Statistics on the Use of Pet Therapy Among Alzheimer’s Sufferers

Older individuals have difficulty with mental illness, particularly with diseases like Alzheimer’s. Let’s take a look to see if animals can help. 

 11. 60% of US Hospice Providers Use Complementary Pet Therapies.

(Source: Alliance of Therapy Dogs)

  • A study looking at in-house Alzheimer’s treatment found that patients dining in front of a tank with bright-colored fish have a higher chance of eating more and don’t pace as often.
  • Four-legged furry friends can provide a sense of calm and responsibility, which patients often feel they lose as the disease progresses.
  • Service animal statistics show that dogs around Alzheimer’s patients should be trained how to behave. But it’s easy to lose your pet. That’s why we recommend looking into a dog GPS tracker just in case.

We know what great impact pets have on our lives, and we shouldn’t deprive older individuals of this love. Alzheimer’s is scary, and patients can truly benefit from an animal bond. 

Wrap Up

Pets, service animals, and therapy animals can improve our quality of life significantly.

The benefits of animal-assisted therapy far outweigh any negative implications. Some people even depend on animals for life-saving interventions.

We believe everyone deserves the love of animals, and animals deserve to feel loved. Since they thrive off helping humans, it’s a win-win for everyone.


How does pet therapy work?

Pet therapy can be simply having an animal present during traditional therapy sessions or patients actively visiting animals. Emotional support animals are often prescribed for conditions like anxiety and depression, but that’s not the same as pet therapy. 

What is a therapy dog used for?

Therapy dogs bring comfort in a setting that some might find intimidating. The animal can be in the room during vocal therapy, or the patient can pet and cuddle it throughout the session.  

How common is animal-assisted therapy?

Animal therapy has been around for centuries and started being properly documented in the 1960s. Today, we understand much more the benefits of animal-based therapy. Roughly 60% of US hospice providers use complementary pet therapies in helping elderly patients. The country also has over 65,000 emotional support animals. 

Is pet therapy effective?

Absolutely! Countless studies show how it’s helped people with mental illness, learning disabilities, the elderly, and domestic violence victims. According to pet therapy statistics, it’s most effective for people struggling with traditional therapies, especially when opening up about traumatic events. 

  1. Web MD
  2. Paws for People
  3. Journal of Pediatric Nursing
  4. Dominican University of California
  5. American College Health Association
  6. Modern Psychological Studies
  7. Autism Speaks
  8. Public Library of Science
  9. Humane Society
  10. Department of Sociology, Saint Leo University, Florida
  11. Alliance of Therapy Dogs
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