Pet Therapy

The Pets at Duke program was established in 1994 based on research support showing that visiting with a pet can reduce stress symptoms, lower blood pressure temporarily, combat feelings of isolation and even lengthen a person’s life expectancy. Since opening in early 2012, the Duke Cancer Center is pleased to offer this unique and positive experience to patients and families.

Patients with cancer are prone to depression, acute stress, feelings of isolation, anxiety, fatigue and fears of death. The psychological comorbidities of cancer negatively affect the health outcomes of patients, and must be addressed to treat patients properly, a movement supported by the Joint Commission.

Animal-assisted activity/therapy is a highly effective form of psychotherapy intervention that has been shown to:

  • Aide stress and depression reduction

  • Provide a sense of companionship that can combat feelings of isolation

  • Help patients to achieve relaxation and to feel connected to a companion (a dog) in order to facilitate the patient’s healing and rehabilitation

Therapy dog visitation is offered in designated areas of the patient waiting lobby twice a week.


Duke Cancer Patient Support Program


Kim Light
Radiation Oncology Pet Therapy Coordinator

Chief Dosimetrist