Common Animals Used for Therapy

Jul 1, 2017

The bond between people and animals runs incredibly deep. Being around animals helps improve a person’s empathy, and can have strong therapeutic benefits. Whether you are training these animals, or just being around them, interacting and sharing in a connection with therapy animals can have an amazingly positive impact on your mental health. However, each type of therapy animal certainly isn’t the same. Here are some of the common animals used for therapy and why…


For years, equine therapy has been an incredibly popular technique for patients with mental disorders, including addiction. There are a handful of amazing benefits that equine therapy provides, even if it doesn’t involve actually riding the horses (though many programs include this, as well). For example, grooming and feeding horses takes a considerable amount of work, and helps people with depression develop stronger life skills and the confidence to accomplish tasks.


It makes sense that man’s best friend would be an excellent shoulder to cry on. As such, dogs tend to make terrific therapy animals. In fact, they are some of the most widely used animals to work in the therapy field. Many species of dogs are inherently quite affectionate and have a keen sense of emotional intelligence into how a human is feeling. Because of this, they are able to provide a sort of unconditional love that is beneficial for people who suffer from mental disorders.


Cats are used in similar ways to lots of therapy dogs, in that they can be naturally quite affectionate (if they are raised to be so). Cats are a lot more difficult to train, and also have periods where they prefer to stick to themselves. For these reasons, cats often make great therapy animals for inpatient settings where a cat can serve as a single therapy animal for a multitude of people on the property.


Taking care of small animals, such as hamsters, rats, or rabbits, gives a person who struggles with confidence issues a sense of purpose and helps improve their life skills. Seeing how they can be the sole provider of an entire other life and make the difference in the comfort and happiness of a living thing builds a sense of purpose.