Pet Therapy In Aged Care

9 March 18

Research has shown that there are a wide range of therapeutic, emotional and social benefits from keeping pets in aged care settings.  At Respect we understand the important role that animals can play in the lives of our residents as we are always looking for ways to provide innovative care solutions.

Anybody that has ever owned a dog can understand why they are often described as ‘man’s best friend’.  They provide unconditional love, unmatched loyalty and everlasting companionship.  Many residents that move into aged care facilities miss the love and camaraderie that their beloved pets provided.  Research has shown that there are many benefits to pet therapy in an aged care setting, some of which may include:

  • Improved motor skills
  • Increased confidence
  • Improved communication
  • Improved mood
  • Decrease in blood pressure and stress
  • Enhanced socialisation
  • Entertainment opportunity
  • Enhanced mood and confidence
  • Increased sense of calm


Pets also provide excellent benefits for the elderly with dementia, with depression declining after they interact with a therapy animal. As well as being wonderful companions, pets also provide significant health benefits to their owners. Research indicates that, in general, pet owners are healthier, less stressed, and happier.

A South Australian aged care provider has recently commenced a trial program involving 7 chickens at their Casino facility.  Early indications are that the animals are providing a valuable source of companionship and residents are particularly enjoying the sense of purpose that caring for an animal brings.

At Respect we value the role that animals can play in improving the quality of life for our residents and frequently look for ways to incorporate interaction with animals into the day-to-day lives of our residents.  Murphy the cat is a permanent fixture at our Eliza Purton Home in Ulverstone.  He lives in Waratah Lodge, the dementia wing of the facility, and provides love and affection for the many residents that come into contact with him on a regular basis.

At our St Ann’s facility in Hobart we have regular visits from the Delta Dogs and staff are also encouraged to bring in their pooches from home to interact with the residents.  A new addition to the family at is Care Manager Jeanette’s new miniature Maltese Terrier – Bee – a 3 year old puppy who visits the residents several times per week. The staff at St Ann’s have noticed an immediate impact, particularly with residents with dementia, as the dogs provide an instant calming influence.  The residents at St Ann’s have taken an immediate liking to Bee, with the knitting group already busily knitting her a purple “uniform” to wear around the facility.