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Mater Pet Therapy Program

Mater's Pet Therapy Program provides patients with the benefits of one-to-one therapeutic intervention from our four legged friends.

Our friendly dogs and their handlers volunteer their time to undertake therapeutic work in conjunction with Mater allied health staff to enhance the patient’s rehabilitation program. The program is goal directed intervention that utilises the human-animal bond as an integral part of the treatment process.

Benefits of pet therapy on health

In recent times there has been research into the physiological effects of animals on humans, including but not limited to, the impact on heart rate and stress chemicals after interactions with pets, usually dogs. These studies showed some measurable benefits of ‘pet therapy’ including:

  • The positive impact of pet ownership on health. Many research studies have demonstrated that people with pets live longer than those without. 
  • Animals having a profound effect on patients both physical and emotional responses can include:
    • reduced sympathetic nervous system stimulation
    • reduced blood pressure
    • reduced release of stress hormones
    • decreased anxiety
    • decreased pain
    • improvements in mood.

Mater Volunteer Services now provide four Pet Therapy Teams for children and adults across its South Brisbane campus.

What do they do?

Our dogs are there to assist with patient rehabilitation. There is intent to continue to build a repertoire of skills that all dogs are able to use when working with patients. The tasks they undertake are dependent on the patient’s illness, with a focus on a desired outcome for the patient. Some activities currently being performed include, but are not limited to:

  • patient to play fetch with a dog – using upper body and upper limb strength and motor coordination skills
  • patient putting clips on the dog – using fine motor skills, grasping and releasing
  • patient to walk alongside dog – this is used to aid mobility
  • patient to play ‘tug of war’ with the dog – assisting with gripping, holding, strengthening
  • patient to roll up ‘sushi roll’ for dog to push and roll out – patient is using fine motor skills, bending, stretching


“I find it very rewarding to be able to share Gracie, and to see all the training that we have done over the years being used in such a positive manner. I just love seeing how happy she makes patients and staff.” Belinda Eva, Pet Therapy Volunteer


Supporting Partner

Pharmacy_RGB.jpgMater Pharmacy is a proud supporter of Mater’s Pet Therapy Program by providing flea, tick and worming treatment and dog wash for the wonderful dogs that brighten the lives of children and adults undergoing treatment at Mater's South Brisbane hospitals.
For further information about Mater's Pet Therapy Program please telephone 07 3163 8599.