Pet Therapy: Enhancing Social and Cardiovascular Wellness in Community Dwelling Older Adults

J Community Health Nurs. 2016;33(1):1-10. doi: 10.1080/07370016.2016.1120587.


Pet therapy can be therapeutic for older adults living in the community. A crossover design was used to examine changes in blood pressure and heart rate before and after a pet therapy visit versus a volunteer-only visit in 28 community dwelling older adults. Relationships among stress, pet attitude, social support, and health status were also examined. Study findings supported that pet therapy significantly decreased blood pressure and heart rate. Ultimately, the findings supported the notion that community health nurses should consider developing and implementing pet therapy programs in the communities they serve. Further implications for community health nurses are discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animal Assisted Therapy / methods*
  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Support