Hospice programs have come to increasingly recognize the value of animal therapy at the end of life. This is especially helpful for those who have always had pets in their lives. Animals provide comfort, strength, a loving presence and warmth. They don’t have the human need to express comfort with words. Oftentimes, an unconditionally loving, non-verbal presence is what a patient needs most. The effect is visibly soothing.  When in an institution, pet therapy animals are specially chosen and trained and have a calm temperament.


  • Dogs and cats both have great emotional value for humans – the unspoken communion can bring a sense of peace
  • When a patient feels isolated, pets can provide companionship
  • Self-consciousness that human interactions sometimes evoke is not an issue(pets have no judgment and love us regardless)
  • Pets relax and calm us, and take our mind off human things.
  • Pets provide a sense of security and protection.

Debra Strang, a hospice worker in Kansas City, has written a book on the topic, entitled Hospice Tails: The Animal Companions Who Journey with Hospice Patients and Their Families. 

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