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The Benefits of Exposure to Animals for Persons with Dementia: A Literature Review

By Stephanie Bennett

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This literature review was performed to assess the current standing of the use of animals as a therapeutic agent for individuals suffering from dementia. This area of study is currently broad; therefore the intent of reviewing the current literature was to establish what has been studied at this point in time and to recommend future research directions in the field. The literature search was performed on three academic search sites (PsycINFO, PubMed, and AgeLine) using four search terms (“Pet therapy Alzheimer’s,” “Pet therapy dementia,” “Animal therapy Alzheimer’s,” “Animal therapy dementia”); search results were verified by having a second researcher independently conduct the literature search using the same criteria used by the author. A total of 26 studies meeting inclusion criteria were reviewed. The general findings of this review show that individuals suffering from dementia who are exposed to animals tend to show improvements in measured outcomes (including behavioral, social, and physiological measures). Based on these findings, it is recommended that future studies examining the impact of interactions between persons with dementia and animals are warranted. However it is recommended that future studies should be done with a more focused intent, should include larger numbers of participants, and should make use of more standardized assessments instruments so the benefits of exposure to animals can be more definitively established.


Katie Carroll

Date April 2014
Publisher Minnesota State University Mankato
Location of Publication Mankato, Minnesota
Conference Title Undergraduate Research Symposium
Format Slideshow
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Assisted living facilities
  3. Cats
  4. Dementia
  5. Dogs
  6. Health care
  7. Long Term Care
  8. Long-term care facilities
  9. Mammals
  10. Nursing homes
  11. Older adults
  12. Pet therapy
  13. therapy animals