If you only look at one resource, we strongly recommend the excellent, comprehensive, practical resource from the State Hospital Scotland about their highly successful animal therapy programme. It is full of advice and inspiration, whether you’re considering getting a fish tank or a full-on glorious mini-farm. Their publication also has an extensive reference list.




Measuring stress and immune response in healthcare professionals following interaction with a therapy dog

Benefits of animal assisted therapy in a forensic psychiatric hospital in America. Quoted here.

Skyping pets when away on holiday



AITM video


Hasbro Children’s Hospital’s Animal Visiting Program

North Shore University Hospital

The University of Maryland Medical Center

Dogs helping soldiers dealing with PTSD

Pets and mental health, Haworth Press, New York, NY. Cusack (1988)



Pets are definitely allowed on wards!


NICE guidelines

Dementia: supporting people with dementia and their carers in health and social care





Paws for Progress 

State Hospital Scotland 

The Health Benefits of Companion Animals – Katcher et al

There’s also a lovely article with an interview with Dr Katcher about the benefits of animals for psychiatric inpatients.

Animal assisted therapy at an adult day care centre for older adults with dementia.

Nutritional benefits of animal contact for people with dementia.

Pain reduction benefits of animal contact


See also:



Therapeutic Use of Companion Animals in Health Care – Jennifer Jorgenson

Mental Health Foundation research into benefits of having a cat




Having a pet is not a miracle cure for mental illness.


Dogs Trust:


PDSA Vet Care scheme helps people on low incomes with costs.



Borrow my Doggy


Selecting a Pet Animal – NHS Forth Valley

Pets as Therapy research – Evaluating the effectiveness of animal-assisted activities and therapy by Alison Reynolds

The Effects of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Anxiety Ratings of Hospitalized Psychiatric Patients

Animal-Facilitated Therapy in Various Patient Populations Systematic Literature Review

Schizophrenia Commission on Swiss mental health hospital’s resident therapeutic dogs


Wardipedia ‘comfort objects’ feature.


Biscuit the interactive toy dog



Inspiring examples from and beyond hospitals:

Care home for people with dementia animals research project

Eden Alternative


Pets as Therapy dogs being introduced to hospitals across North Wales

Pawsitive Pals Pet Therapy Program at San Diego Hospice



Legal situation

NHS Forth Valley policy document.




The Five Freedoms


Particularly wonderfully helpful policies.



Very detailed policy, examples, evidence base etc



NAViGO’s pets policy:



Keeping humans happy, healthy and safe


State Hospital Scotland – Animals as Therapy

A lovely clear summary for dogs and cats is provided by Cheshire & Wirral NHS Trust

Excellent policy from Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber

Animal-assisted activity and infection control implications in a healthcare setting.

Dogs in Islam

Article – Fatwa allows Muslim’s guide dog inside mosque



Dogs in different faiths








Keeping animals happy, healthy and safe

State Hospital Scotland – Animals as Therapy



Therapy or therapeutic?

Animal Assisted Therapy in occupational therapy practice

Effectiveness of an Animal-Assisted Therapy Program in an Inpatient Psychiatric Unit

The Effects of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Anxiety Ratings of Hospitalized Psychiatric Patients

An exploratory study of the effect of animal-assisted therapy on nonverbal communication in three schizophrenic patients

State Hospital Scotland – Animals as Therapy



See also:

Therapy pets and humans with mental health issues



Assistance dogs

Buddy the mental health support dog

Access to medical facilities for guide dog owners

NHS Forth Valley policy

Guide dogs within Islam

Equality Act