Effects of animal-assisted therapy on behavioral and/or psychological symptoms in dementia: a case report

Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2012 Dec;27(8):625-32. doi: 10.1177/1533317512464117. Epub 2012 Oct 25.


Background: Recently, interest in nonpharmaceutical interventions in dementia care has increased. Animal-assisted therapy has been shown to be one promising intervention but more knowledge is needed. The present article reports on a pilot study involving an 84-year-old woman with vascular dementia who was systematically trained with a therapy dog team for 8 weeks.

Methods: A quasi-experimental longitudinal interventional design with pre-post measures was used. Data were collected on 3 occasions. Descriptive statistics were used for data analysis.

Results: Some effects on the woman's ability to walk and move were identified. In addition, some effects in the woman's cognitive state were observed.

Conclusions: Physical, psychological, and/or social training with certified therapy dog teams can have effects on behavioral and psychological symptoms in people living with dementia. Further research is needed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animal Assisted Therapy / methods*
  • Animals
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Dogs*
  • Female
  • Human-Animal Bond*
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome