Doggies Help Kids with Cancer

If you needed any more evidence about the benefits of therapy animals, it’s here!

In a presentation by the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in Washington, DC today, researchers shared that there is a measurable improvement in kids’ anxiety levels when undergoing cancer treatments, if they get to hang out with a dog.

In the most recent study, researchers measured anxiety levels and blood pressure in two groups of kids, one which got to spend time with a therapy dog and one which did not. Kids in the experimental group got to brush, pet, and interact with a therapy dog during treatment. They also got to watch it perform tricks, follow commands and learn more about the breed.

The kids who spent time with the therapy dogs had much more stable blood pressure and anxiety readings. They also maintained more steady heart rates.

shutterstock_196467692The study also found that parents benefited from spending time with the canine companions. Parents who were lucky enough to be part of the experimental group with the dogs had more stable anxiety levels throughout treatment, and even demonstrated lower anxiety levels by the end.

This study supports another recently published study that demonstrated adult cancer patients fared better when spending time with therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers, and were more likely to complete treatment.

Many hospitals and cancer centers have integrated pet therapy services. It’s an activity that dogs, volunteers and patients enjoy. Would your dog be a good therapy dog?


The effects of animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) for pediatric oncology patients, their parents, and therapy dogs at five hospital sites, Amy McCullough et al., presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition, 25 October 2015

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