OK, this isn’t really science except that it has been proven that cute puppies or adult dogs make people feel better. They also reduce depression and improve the measured health of people in hospitals or nursing homes.
Cute Puppies, Interesting Kittens
Puppies are cute. Kittens are interesting.
PubMed, a federal government medical database available online recently carried this story:
There is a growing interest for the potential health benefits of human-animal interactions. Although scientific evidence on the effects is far from being consistent, companion animals are used with a large number of human subjects, ranging from children to elderly people, who benefit most from emotional support.
Based on a comprehensive review of the literature, this paper examines the potential for domesticated animals, such as dogs, for providing emotional and physical opportunities to enrich the lives of many frail subjects.
In particular, we focus on innovative interventions, including the potential use of dogs to improve the life of emotionally-impaired children, such as those affected by autism spectrum disorders.
Overall an ever increasing research effort is needed to search for the mechanism that lie behind the human-animal bond as well as to provide standardized methodologies for a cautious and effective use of animal-assisted interventions.
(Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2011;47(4):341-8.DOI: 10.4415/ANN_11_04_04.Animal-assisted interventions as innovative tools for mental health.
1 Dipartimento di Biologia Cellulare e Neuroscienze, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy. firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you have a serious scientific bent, you can read the entire article for free at www.iss.it/publ/anna/2011/4/474341.pdf
You can tell that animal helpers have become more medically acceptable because the medical community has rejected the simple and obvious term “pet therapy.” They turned that simple phrase into a medical term “Animal Assisted Intervention.” That could mean almost anything.
Even more, they have set multiple “medical” definitions.
“Animal-assisted activities (AAA) Provide opportunities for motivational, educational, and/or recreational benefits in order to enhance quality of life of humans. AAA are delivered in a variety of environments by specially trained professionals, and/or volunteers in association with animals that meet specific criteria of safety.”
“Animal-assisted therapies (AAT) Are goal-directed interventions in which a specifically trained animal is an integral part of the treatment process. AAT are delivered and/or directed by a health/human service provider working within the scope of his or her profession. AAT are designed to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning. They are provided in a variety of settings and involve the individual. This process needs to be documented and evaluated throughout.”
“Animal-assisted education (AAE) Relies on the use of animals for specific educational purposes, as is the case with problematic children characterized by behavioral problems.”
Or, they could just have made it really simple and easy to understand. Looking at more cute puppy photos and having dogs around is good for your health.
Italy is far ahead of the U.S. in this medical research, which doesn’t surprise me. Decades ago I found a treatment/cure for Crohn’s Disease in an Italian medical journal. A full ten years before it became standard practice in the U.S.
In the UK now, cute puppies help humans reduce stress. In Lancashire, in the midlands, stressed out students can pay to play with cute puppies. They have a dedicated dog room at the University of Central Lancashire, the Daily Mail reported.
Students stressing out over impending exams have been offered a novel way to relax – for a small donation of £1.50, they can cuddle a puppy in a dedicated dog room.
The students’ union at the University of Central Lancashire – citing Japanese research that claims the power of ‘cute’ can improve concentration – have organised the puppy cuddling event to be held Thursday next week.
And the opportunity to cuddle a pup has proved irresistible to the students, with the ‘puppy room’ already completely booked and its reserve list at its maximum.
Now For The Cute Puppies Therapy
On to the cute puppies therapy.