top of page

Animal Therapy

What is animal assisted therapy?

Animal Assisted Therapy, also known as Pet Therapy, uses a variety of animals including horses, to help individuals as they recover from physical and mental health conditions. 

How does animal assisted therapy work?

When dealing with a serious medical or mental health condition, people face a siginifcant amount of stress. That stress can hinder and prolong their recovery process. Animals help bring a sense of comfort and support, allowing healing to take place. With proper assistance and supervision our clients are able to touch, play and connect with all of our exotic animals. 

Aya Rehab Center, Recovery, Detox, Addiction, Alcohol, Drugs, Los Angeles

Benefits of animal assisted therapy

According to the studies from Husson University, the benefits of Animal Therapy include:




  • If you have ever spent time petting a fur friend and felt an immediate emotional boost, then you have experienced one of the mental health benefits of animal therapy. For most people, the presence of an animal prompts the body to release seratonin, prolactin and oxytocin. These hormones generate a relaxation and stress-reducing response, according to UCLA HEALTH. This hormone release can lower symptoms of depression and sadness, helping support good mental health.

  • Releasing these "happy hormones" also helps lower anxiety, so people will relax during their treatment or therapy. They also experiance less loneliness while in recovery. The presence of an animal provides comfort and a needed distraction from an otherwise challenging time.

  • Some clients have mental health blocks that make therapy and treatment more difficult. Bringing in an animal can "break the ice" between a therapist and client, reducing the initial resistance to therapy. This reduction in resistance to therapy can increase effectiveness of these programs.

  • Finally, in clients who are struggling with agitation, working with therapy animals helps lessen those negative behavioral patterns. Since more than 90% of addiction recovery clients have problems related to agitation during recovery, this is a significant benefit for the client as well as for the staff and therapist. 


  • The presence of therapy animals motivates clients to work harder in their rehab activities, whether that is counseling-related or physical therapy.

  • Participants find themselves more motivated to participate in therapy after interacting with a pet. The increased pain threshold that comes with the oxytocin release can also motivate people to push harder in their therapy programs.


  • While the mental health benefits of interacting with animals are well-known, many people are surprised to note that animal therapy positively impacts physical health. It can speed healing and reduce the effects of some health conditions. Here is a closer look at the research:

  • In 2007 study punlished in the American Journal of Critical Care, researchers found that visits with therapy animals improved cardiovascular health and lowered blood pressure while stimultaneously lowering stress hormone levels. The American Heart Association has found that working with therapy animals improve the health of heart failure patients. Regular interaction with therapy animals can reduce the amount of medication some people need to manage medical conditions. Anxious clients experiance slowed breathing, and interaction with welcoming animals actually boosts the immune system as well. Some researchers have found an increase in salivatory immunoglobulin A, which indicates a healthy immune system function, after people spent time petting a therapy animal for only 20 minutes. The release of oxytocin impacts the immune system and increases the pain threshold, helping people heal at a faster rate.

bottom of page