Got an idea for a holiday? Send it to us

Submit Now

National Therapy Animal Day – April 30, 2023

It’s National Therapy Animal Day on April 30 every year. Let’s face it. We’ve all had days when we would rather hang out with animals than humans. This day recognizes and honors the invaluable work done by these creatures. It also celebrates the thousands of dedicated handlers, the human members of therapy animal teams, who volunteer their time during visits. The day also aims to raise awareness and educate people about the important role therapy animals play in enhancing the health and well-being of humans. Having a therapy animal can be life-changing in the best way. Ask any pet owner, and they’ll tell you the same.

History of National Therapy Animal Day

National Therapy Animal Day was created by Pet Partners, an American nonprofit organization specializing in therapy animals. It promotes the health and wellness benefits of animal-assisted therapy, activities, and education. It has more than 10,000 registered teams making more than three million visits annually. It also registers handlers of multiple species as volunteer teams. Animal therapy or pet therapy refers to using animals to help people cope with and recover from certain physical and mental health conditions. Depending on the function of the therapy, people can choose from many animals including dogs, horses, and birds.

This form of therapy can enhance other treatments as animals can perform direct actions to help a person’s condition when they are in need and even alert others if someone is in danger.
While animal therapy can be traced back to Ancient Greece, the first formal research on animal therapy began just a few decades ago. Dr. Boris Levinson found that his dog had a positive effect on mentally impaired young patients. He discovered that these patients were more comfortable and likely to socialize with his dog than with other humans. Sigmund Freud’s findings on this subject were translated and published years after Levinson’s death, which is when this research started to be considered valid. It might be surprising to know that there was a lot of controversy on animal therapy just a few years ago when today it is widely accepted and so extensive.

The noticeable changes in human behavior when interacting with animals are the main reason why this form of therapy is so attractive and why it has become such an integral part of today’s therapeutic practices. All sorts of animals are used for therapy, including the usual pets, rabbits, pigs, and birds.

National Therapy Animal Day timeline

Ancient Greece
Horse Helpers

The Ancient Greeks are among the first to practice animal therapy and use horses to lift people’s spirits.

1600s
Belgium

Physicians reportedly use horses to help patients with physical and mental health conditions.

1940s
Animal Farm

The American Red Cross uses animals on a farm where war veterans suffering from injury or illness take care of the animals to help with their recovery.

1960s
Research Begins

The first formal research involving animal therapy begins.

National Therapy Animal Day FAQs

What can therapy animals help with?

Therapy animals can help with a range of conditions including children having dental procedures, cancer treatment, long-term care facilities, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, and depression among other things.

What is the most common animal used for therapy?

Man’s best friends, dogs, are the most commonly used animals for therapy. It’s easy to see why. They’re cute, fluffy, and they love you more than anything in the world.

Why are animals so comforting?

Studies have shown that interacting with animals increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, which slows a person’s heart rate and breathing, reduces blood pressure, and inhibits the production of stress hormones. All of this makes us more calm and relaxed.

National Therapy Animal Day Activities

  1. Spread awareness

    Share information about animal therapy on your social media accounts so that more people can learn about it and benefit from it. There are various social media platforms to pique your interest, and you could promote them.

  2. Appreciate your pets

    Shower your pet with affection by giving them treats, playing with a little extra today, and grooming them, so they look their best. Don’t have a pet? Get one!

  3. Have a pet party

    Throw a pet-themed party by inviting your friends and their pets over. “Ain’t no party like a pet-themed party.” Just remember to separate the hamsters from the cats.

5 Facts About Pet Animals That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. Dogs can tell time

    Research has shown that dogs can anticipate future events based on their experiences.

  2. Americans adopt a lot

    Americans adopt around 3.2 million animals from shelters annually.

  3. Hamsters have huge cheeks

    Hamsters can store surprising amounts of food in their cheek pouches which extend down to their hips.

  4. Goldfish can live for decades

    The oldest captive goldfish ever recorded, Tish, died at the age of 43.

  5. Dogs have unique nose prints

    They have unique nose prints, just like humans have different fingerprints.

Why We Love National Therapy Animal Day

  1. It’s extremely beneficial

    Animal therapy helps increase emotional stability while improving people’s self-worth, socialization, and communication skills. Dogs and cats can reduce stress, make you more active and even improve your cardiovascular health.

  2. Animals are great for the whole family

    Caring for a pet animal helps children grow up more secure and active. Pets also provide valuable companionship for the elderly.

  3. Animals are cute

    It doesn’t matter whether you’re a dog person or a cat person or a hamster person or even a gecko person. They’re all adorable, and we love them to pieces!

National Therapy Animal Day dates

YearDateDay
2023April 30Sunday
2024April 30Tuesday
2025April 30Wednesday
2026April 30Thursday
2027April 30Friday

Want to sponsor this holiday?

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.