National Institutes of Health studying health benefits of dogs

October 12, 2009 at 12:52 pm Leave a comment

bigstockphoto_Boy_Hugging_Dog_866880No one who has shared a life with pets, or had one love, nuzzle and prod us back from sorrow, grief or depression, is in any doubt that animals have huge health benefits for both children and adults. But knowing and proving something scientifically are two different things.

The National Institutes of Health and researchers at the Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition are looking to change that. From the New York Times:

Anecdotes abound on the benefits of companion animals — whether service and therapy animals or family pets — on human health. But in-depth studies have been rare. Now the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health, is embarking on an effort to study whether these animals can have a tangible effect on children’s well-being.

In partnership with the Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition in England (part of the Mars candy and pet food company), the child health institute is seeking proposals that “focus on the interaction between humans and animals.” In particular, it is looking for studies on how these interactions affect typical development and health, and whether they have therapeutic and public-health benefits. It also invites applications for studies that “address why relationships with pets are more important to some children than to others” and that “explore the quality of child-pet relationships, noting variability of human-animal relationships within a family.”

Read more — including a great story about the effect of a dog on a boy with autism — here.…

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