Thrive Behavioral Sciences, a leading provider of behavioral health services to skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, has launched its Furry Palz Program at select Avante Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers across Central Florida.

Furry Palz provides dementia patients a cuddly robot puppy or kitten that simulates a breathing pet and can rest on the patient’s lap.

A Furry Palz robotic dog

“The Furry Palz Program represents the kind of treatment innovations that Avante seeks out to ensure we are providing our residents with exceptional, scientifically-based care,” said Kimberly Biegasiewicz, vice president of clinical services, Avante. “Because there are so few treatment options available to patients with dementia in particular, Furry Palz represents a significant opportunity for us to apply the latest medical evidence to preventing or reducing some of the most troubling behaviors associated with this heartbreaking disease.”

Furry Palz puppies and kittens are available in many breeds and colors to help match requests from prospective owners. By closely mimicking the behaviors of real sleeping animals, robotic companions have been shown to decrease isolation behaviors and depression symptoms among participating residents with dementia. They have also helped reduce agitation, especially with sundowning. 

Furry Palz provides a nonpharmacological method of treatment, one supported by  scientific findings. Most recently, a meta-analysis showed a statistically significant decrease in behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, especially agitation and depression, in people with dementia who had access to robotic pets.

Thrive Behavioral Sciences’ psychologists and mental health providers will follow residents with Furry Palz pets to document any anecdotal or measurable outcomes attributed to the program. The information will be used to refine and expand the program to additional facilities across Florida. Thrive has also engaged RB Health Partners to develop infection control guidelines for enhanced safety.