Human-animal relationships: from daily life to animal-assisted therapies

Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2011;47(4):397-408. doi: 10.4415/ANN_11_04_12.


Humans have a long history of relationship with domestic animals and nowadays pets often act as "social substitutes" through bonding. There is some evidence that pet presence at home may induce well being in people and the development of social skills in children. Animal assisted therapies aim at developing these skills in patients on the basis of human animal interactions. Experimental data obtained on animal models suggest that this is indeed a promising line. There is however a lack of clear scientific data that would help defines what the most appropriate procedures or species may be. Improvements are observed, but again sound scientific data are mostly missing. Attention must be given to the welfare of the animals being used.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Assisted Therapy / methods*
  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic
  • Camelids, New World
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Horses
  • Human-Animal Bond*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Rabbits