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Benefits of pet therapy introduced to cardiac rehabilitation patients

By Angela Joy Felker

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This study was designed to measure the beneficial effects of a pet therapy program on a population of older adult cardiac rehabilitation patients. It was hypothesized that participants who received an interactive pet therapy session would have lower blood pressure and heart rate prior to and immediately following the interactive session than when they were simply exposed to the animal or when no animal was present. It was hypothesized that the dog interaction session would lead to better short-term mood and greater optimism than the dog exposure or no dog control condition. It was also hypothesized that participants who exhibited a higher degree of engagement with the dog would have lower blood pressure and heart rate than those who did not. Finally, it was hypothesized that patients who received dog interaction sessions during this study would rate their overall satisfaction with the program more highly than those in previous years who did not receive sessions with a dog. Twenty-eight patients were randomly assigned to first receive a 15 minute session of pet therapy, and the following week only be exposed to the dog, or vice versa. Blood pressure and heart rate were documented prior to and following all sessions. Mood and optimism self-reports were collected after each session. Data was collected over a five month period. Results indicated that dog interaction and dog exposure did not affect blood pressure, heart rate, optimism, or mood. In sum, results from this study are inconclusive as to whether pet therapy benefited this group of patients.


Katie Carroll

Date 2006
Pages 81
Publisher California State University San Marcos
Department Psychology
Degree Master of Arts
Language English
University California State University San Marcos
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Animal roles
  3. Cardiovascular health
  4. Dogs
  5. Health
  6. Health care
  7. Human-animal interactions
  8. Mammals
  9. Older adults
  10. Pets and companion animals
  11. Pet therapy
  12. Rehabilitation