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Pet Therapy Brings Happiness to Seniors

August 15, 2019 | Villa Cathay Blog

Pets Enhance the Quality of Life for Seniors

Pet therapy offers many benefits to seniors. Recent studies showed that pets are a great companion to increase the social interaction for seniors. Having pets around are found to enhance the overall quality of life for seniors. As we age, building relationships take time and courage but humans are naturally social beings who need interpersonal contact. Therefore, pet therapy is a great way to provide companionship and much more!


The Benefits of Pet Therapy for Seniors
  • Studies show that pet companionship goes beyond physical exercise such as walking a dog. It improves the psychological well-being of seniors by alleviating loneliness or depressive symptoms.
  • Seniors showed improved levels of overall mood and decreased stress levels when in contact with pets. The simple act of petting, brushing or feeding the animal provide seniors with a connection to the world.
  • Studies show that seniors who have a pet companion usually live healthier lives as pets satisfy the longing for company and desire for affection.
  • A pet can become a kind of dependence for seniors. They become something to care for and to accompany them during times that they may feel lonely. One interview asked seniors how important their dog was to them in their current life situation. Responses include, “He gives me a purpose,” or, “I talk to my dog, so it’s like there’s always someone there.”
  • Pet therapy may even have a positive influence on seniors with dementia. This is because individuals with dementia may face a communication barrier. However, an animal’s non-verbal communication and unconditional love may provide seniors with the comfort they need without having to communicate.



In the month of July, we invited The Lion and Lamb Heritage Farm for a pop-up petting zoo experience. They brought in chicks, rabbits and a miniature dwarf goat to visit Villa Cathay residents. Instantly, we saw the residents’ faces light up. You could feel the energy in the room. They were excited to pet and even hold the animals. Even residents who are usually more reserved had a gleaming smile on their faces! Some residents started to remember the pets that they had when they were kids and how much they loved playing with them.

“This rabbit is so quiet, soft and fluffy. I want to hold her all day,” says one resident.

The seniors were so happy. This was definitely an awesome experience for the seniors and we can’t wait to do it again for them! Here are some pictures from our Pop Up Petting Zoo:

Resident with Pet Resident with Pet Resident with Pet Resident with Pet

To see more of our activities or programs, please check out our Programs and Services page. If you have any suggestions to enhance the quality of lives of residents, please email us at [email protected] with your ideas!



1. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/benefits-of-elderly-owning-pets-113294.htm
2. https://www.aplaceformom.com/planning-and-advice/articles/pet-friendly-assisted-living
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3351901/
4. Pet therapy and institutionalized elderly: A study on 144 cognitively unimpaired subjects

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