Therapy Dogs Can Help Kids Battling With Cancer


Dogs are commonly referred to as “man’s best friend” and everyone knows a dog’s unconditional love feels good. For kids battling cancer, relief from the stress of their situation may come on four legs, a new study shows.

In the study, so-called "therapy dogs" seemed to provide these children with both physical and mental benefits. "The dog may have a calming effect on the patient," lead researcher Amy McCullough, national director of humane research and therapy at the American Humane Association, explained.


McCullough's team looked at outcomes for 106 children, aged 3 to 17, who were newly diagnosed with cancer. The kids were divided into two groups, where one group received weekly visits from a therapy dog and the other group did not. The kids could pet, brush, talk to, walk and play with the dog during the 10-20 minute sessions.



And the results were surprising. All of the children’s stress levels went down over time. Kids who had regular visits from a therapy dog while undergoing cancer treatment worried less about their health and felt more comfortable about their school performance.


Even the parents of the kids who visited the furry therapists, showed “significantly decreased” stress levels, especially when talking with doctors, thinking about their child’s treatment and considering their overall emotional state, researchers found.


Seeing their child comforted by a therapy dog helped reduce the emotional distress for parents. So it’s something that the whole family can improve from,” told McCullough.


These findings will also help in the "understanding of the benefits of the vital bond shared between people and animals."


Information in this article was sourced from


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