Importance of Pets to Dementia Patients

Anybody who owns a pet can attest to the fact that it is to them that silent friend who loves them unconditionally.

If you happen to visit any of the dementia care facilities today, you will notice the presence of dogs, cats, parrots, fish in an aquarium or any other animal. Research has shown that the presence of pets in the life of a Dementia patient can be therapeutic.

There are numerous advantages associated with a dementia patient interacting with a pet;

  • Assist in physical activity

Pets move around and play a lot. This motivates patients to move around as they reciprocate the actions from the pets. Walking pets and playing with them will provide an enjoyable and calm environment that can help reduce agitation.

  • Increased communication and social interaction

Dementia patients experience difficulty in verbal communication. This gets them easily frustrated and agitated. Pets communicate on a deeper level that those living with any form of dementia can comprehend and be grateful for. This can make verbal communication more likely to happen for the patient. Interacting with pets can also spark memories of pets patients used to have triggering actual conversation by telling others about them.

  • Reignites the interest of a patient to the world around them

Dementia patients find themselves in a whole new unfamiliar world. Interacting with pets can make them more aware of their surroundings. The memories brought by pets can also help them bring back good memories.

  • Provide emotional support

Animals have strong emotions too. They easily form bonds with humans. Interacting with animals provides a soothing effect on patients and helps fight depression and anxiety.  This is because they are good listeners and will not tire from listening to the same story over and over again. They will offer unconditional love and attention to people that care for them.

Stroking the animal or petting it will also bring peace and comfort to a patient.

  • Offers a sense of purpose

The memory of a person with Dementia may not be okay but their feelings are real and impact most of their day. A dementia patient who wakes up in the morning to a dog wagging its tail or a cut purring is more likely to enjoy his or her day. The responsibility of caring for a pet taps into a patient’s nurturing instinct. It leaves them feeling needed and useful.

  • Decrease in behavioral problems

Pets provide enjoyment and a pleasant break from routine. Spending time with a pet reduces loud and aggressive outbursts and anxiety because of the feelings initiated by its presence. A patient who has a greater attachment to the pet can also experience reduced mood disorders.


The importance of pets to dementia patients is evident. They enrich the patient’s life. However, it is important to note that not all patients will appreciate these animals. Technology has provided us with the alternative of animated toy animals which make noises when touched.

A pet could be what is missing to make your loved one live a healthier and more purposeful life!