Effectiveness of Pet Therapy for Dementia



Dementia represents a mental and economic burden for both patients and their caregivers. Therefore, the aim of this study is to explore the effectiveness of animal assisted therapy (AAT) with special focus on canis therapy among people with dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease.


The key method of this review study is a systematic review of the research studies detected in the Web of Science, Scopus and PubMed. The search was conducted for the studies dating from 2016 till 31 August 2018 because several review studies were published before. Eventually, only six studies were involved into the final analysis.


The findings of this review, based on significant effect sizes, reveal that AAT may work as a beneficial and effective complementary treatment, especially in the area of behavioral and psychological symptoms, for patients with different degree of dementia severity if AAT is targeted at their specific needs and interests.


More research in the area of methodology for the implementation of AAT is necessary, and more research should be conducted with respect to the use of AAT for the improvement of cognitive functions in people with dementia.


Klimova, B., Toman, J. & Kuca, K. Effectiveness of the dog therapy for patients with dementia – a systematic review. BMC Psychiatry 19, 276 (2019) doi:10.1186/s12888-019-2245-x https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-019-2245-x