Can Companionship with Dogs Have a Calming Effect on Children With Cancer

Logos 005A new study reported in the Medicine section of Science Newsline concluded that some of their preliminary data confirm earlier data that therapy dogs that visit patients hsave a p0sitive effect on children with cancer and their families. In the study that will be presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference in Washington, D.C. collected data on blood pressure, pulse rate, and anxiety levels of children before and after a weekly visit from a therapy dog. During the dog visits, children could pet or talk with the dog or they could brush its fur, watch the dog practice tricks, or look at pictures of the dog or learn about dog breeding.

Results showed that blood pressure readings in the subjects were more stable over all sessions than in the control group. In addition, there was less variability in heart rate of subjects than controls  which may suggest a calming effect of the dog. Thus far, 68 children have been enrolled in the program with 39 in the treatment group and 29 as controls.  Double this number is expected at the conclusion of the study in 2016. Researchers also found a decrease in the anxiety level of both groups of children, but found parents were less variations in anxious in the treatment group. More results will be available as the study progresses.

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