Pet therapy is a beneficial tool that provides patients and their families with a sense of normalcy despite the unfamiliar hospital setting.

For more than a decade, the Child Life Pet Therapy Program at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital has brought a piece of comfort from home into the hospital.

Pet therapy visit times

When you meet with a member of the Child Life team at the beginning of your stay at the Children’s Hospital, you may be asked if your child would benefit from a pet therapy visit. At this time, pet therapy visits may only occur on inpatient units. Visits to patient rooms occur several times each week in the Children’s Hospital. 

Interacting with the dogs

Pet therapy handlers are extensively trained to know how to best interact with pediatric patients and their families. All pet therapy dogs are tested in a hospital setting and have experience working with children.

The dogs may sit on the floor, a chair, or on the patient’s bed, and the patient may pet, play with, talk to, or watch the dog. Siblings and other family members are encouraged to interact with therapy dogs as pet therapy can be equally as therapeutic for families of patients.

Medical clearance

Due to infection prevention policies, some patients may not be able to interact with pet therapy dogs during their hospital stay. Contact a member of the Child Life team for questions or concerns

A pet therapy dog sits in the grass in front of a helicopter
Pet Therapy at Penn State Health Children's Hospital.