Pets at Duke

Pets at Duke

The Pets at Duke program, offered through the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program, offers many benefits to our patients. Research shows that animal-assisted therapy, or pet therapy, is an effective form of psychotherapy intervention that reduces stress and depression. It also provides a sense of companionship that can combat feelings of isolation. The relaxation and feelings of connection that people feel with an animal -- in this case a dog -- facilitate healing and rehabilitation.

Therapy dogs lift Duke patients' spirits (Video)


Participating dogs are 'therapy-certified'. Therapy dogs reside with their owner and complete additional testing on-site before being accepted to the Pets at Duke team.

Pets at Duke serve the following areas

Duke University Hospital

  • Inpatient Adult Oncology (twice per week)
  • Inpatient Pediatric Oncology (twice per week)
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (once per week)

Duke Cancer Center

  • Duke Cancer Center Radiation Oncology clinic - 0-0 (twice per week)
  • Duke Cancer Center Gynecology/Oncology clinic -2-2 (twice per week)
  • Duke Cancer Center Brain Tumor clinic - 3-1 (twice per month)
  • Duke Cancer Center Thoracic and GI clinic -3-2 (twice per month)
  • Duke Cancer Center Oncology treatment room (once per week)

Community setting

  • Hock Inpatient Hospice Facility (once per week and 2 weekend days per month)

Additionally, Pets at Duke visit most areas of the hospital on a referral basis.  These visits are based on handler/dog team availability.