A trial has, for the first time, found solid data to support anecdotal reports of the positive impact therapy dogs can have on children with cancer.
The study is part of the Canines and Childhood Cancer (CCC) research project, run by the American Humane Association and funded by Zoetis, looking at the effects of animal assisted therapy (AAT) on the child, the family and the therapy dog.
So far, the trial has enrolled 68 children diagnosed with cancer of ages ranging from 3 to 17 years. Thirty-nine of the children are in the AAT treatment group and 29 are in the control group.
Researchers expect to enrol around the same number again before the study ends in 2016. Preliminary findings suggest therapy dogs have a beneficial calming effect on both the children and the parents of the young patients.