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Animal Assisted Interventions

‘Animals are used to help humans in different ways. Studies suggest that the effects of pet ownership can be beneficial to physical, social and psychological wellbeing. Research has found that stroking a pet can be relaxing and can result in a reduction in blood pressure. The presence of pets can also promote social interaction and reduce psychological responses to anxiety’ Hall & Malpus (2000) Pets as therapy: effects on social interaction p. 2220. Use this guide to find information resources about animal assisted interventions including books, journal articles and reports.

Last updated: 06/10/2017

Key Resources

Glenk L M (2017) Current perspectives on therapy dog welfare in animal-assisted interventions, Animals, 7(2), 7.
Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (2017) Animals in clinical areas policy (including therapy pets), Bridgwater.

Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust (2011) Animals within healthcare settings policy, Hampshire. 

NHS Evidence guidance searches: animal assisted therapy
  • NICE guidance is officially England only.
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Pets as therapy
Hall PL and Malpus Z (2000) Pets as therapy: effects on social interaction in long-stay psychiatry, British Journal of Nursing, 9(21), pp.2220-2225.
University of Lincoln:  Lincoln education assistance with dogs
University of Lincoln.  The Blue Dog project: preventing dog bites in children, Lincoln: University of Lincoln.
Society for companion animal studies, SCAS. 
Dogs for Good (2016) Annual report & financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2016, Banbury: Dogs for Good.
Assistance dogs UK: The law
University of Stirling: Paws for progress: 
Yap E, Scheinberg A and Williams K (2017) Attitudes to and beliefs about animal assisted therapy for children with disabilities, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 26, pp.47-52. 


Chandler animal assisted Chandler C K (2012) Animal assisted therapy in counselling, Florence: Taylor and Francis.
Cusack pets and the elderly Cusack O & Smith E (2016) Pets and the elderly: the therapeutic bond, Florence: Taylor and Francis.
Altschiller animal assisted Altschiller D (2011) Animal-assisted therapy, Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
Fine handbook

Fine A H (2015) Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: foundations and guidelines for animal-assisted interventions (4th ed.). San Diego: Elsevier Science.

Snyder complimentary and alternative Snyder M and Lindquist (editors) (2014) Complementary and alternative therapies in nursing, New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Marcus power of wagging Marcus D (2011) Power of wagging tails: A doctor’s guide to dog therapy and healing. New York: Demos medical publishing.
Sing zoonoses Sing A (2014) Zoonoses - Infections Affecting Humans and Animals: Focus on Public Health Aspects, Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.
Pavlides autism Pavlides M (2008) Animal-assisted interventions for individuals with autism. London: Jessica Kingsley.
Marcus cancer care Marcus D (2012) Therapy dogs in cancer care. New York: Springer New York.
Pichot brief therapy Pichot T & Coulter M (2012) Therapy dogs in cancer care. New York: Springer New York
Frei angel on a leash Frei D (2011) Angel on a leash: therapy dogs and the lives they touch. Irvine: bi5 Publishing.

Book subject searches

Journal articles

Use these links to see details of journal articles on each topic. This will carry out a live search for articles.  



RCN Public Lecture: From detection dogs to therapy pets: animals in health.

BBC News: Don't be scared to let animals on wards, say nurses (21st June 2017).

BBC News: Polmont inmates to train dogs in bid to boost behaviour (25th November 2010).

PetsAsTherapy Flickr (photos).

Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Vienna (2016) Publications and recommended reading webpage.

RCN library staff

Kat Baumgartner

Author of this guide

RCN Library and Archive Services