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An evaluation of dog-assisted therapy for residents of aged care facilities with dementia


Travers, Catherine, Perkins, Jacqueline, Rand, Jacqui, Bartlett, Helen, Morton, John


Anthrozoös, Volume: 26, No.: 2, Pages.: 213-225

Year of Publication



Although some research suggests that dog-assisted therapy may be beneficial for people with dementia living in residential aged care facilities, the intervention has not been adequately investigated. To address this shortcoming, we conducted a randomized controlled trial of dog-assisted therapy versus a human-therapist-only intervention for this population. Fifty-five residents with mild to moderate dementia living in three Australian residential aged care facilities completed an 11-week trial of the interventions. Allocation to the intervention was random and participants completed validated measures of mood, psychosocial functioning, and quality of life (QOL), both prior to and following the intervention. No adverse events were associated with the dog-assisted intervention, and following it participants who had worse baseline depression scores demonstrated significantly improved depression scores relative to participants in the human-therapist-only intervention. Participants in the dog-assisted intervention also showed significant improvements on a measure of QOL in one facility compared with those in the human-therapist-only group (although worse in another facility that had been affected by an outbreak of gastroenteritis). This study provides some evidence that dog-assisted therapy may be beneficial for some residents of aged care facilities with dementia. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)

Bibtex Citation

@article{Travers_2013, doi = {10.2752/175303713x13636846944169}, url = {}, year = 2013, month = {jun}, publisher = {Informa {UK} Limited}, volume = {26}, number = {2}, pages = {213--225}, author = {Catherine Travers and Jacqueline Perkins and Jacqui Rand and Helen Bartlett and John Morton}, title = {An Evaluation of Dog-Assisted Therapy for Residents of Aged Care Facilities with Dementia}, journal = {Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People {&} Animals} }


aged care, animal assisted therapy, dementia, dogs, residential care institutions, treatment effectiveness evaluation

Countries of Study


Types of Dementia

Dementia (general / unspecified)

Types of Study

Randomised Controlled Trial

Type of Outcomes

Depression and Anxiety, Quality of Life of Person With Dementia


Long Term Residential Care without medically trained staff

Type of Interventions

Non-pharmacological Treatment

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions

Animal / Pet Therapy