Hand & Paw
This study ascertained to what extent pet therapy(visits with a dog) affects mood, perception of health and sense of coherence among cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy and to study the effects of visiting patients on therapy dogs’stress levels. Thirty patients who were receiving nonpalliative radiation therapy for cancer received either dog visits, friendly human visits, or quiet reading sessions for 15 minutes before radiation therapy sessions, 3 times per week for four weeks. We measured the patients’ mood, anxiety, sense of coherence, fatigue and self-perceived health. We measured the visitor dogs’ heart rate, blood pressure and urinary cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
Click here for Human-animal interaction: A complementary/alternative medical intervention (CAM) for cancer patients.
Pet a Pet
This study measured the neurohormonal changes in humans’ and dogs’ blood after a brief quiet human-dog or human-robotic dog interaction. Blood levels of oxytocin, prolactin, cortisol, serotonin, and norepinephrine were studied.
Walking for Healthy Hearts
In this study we measured whether older adults who took part in a regular program walking with a trained, friendly dog and its handler, lost weight and improved their overall health. Participants took part in either a 50-week or 26-week program walking with trained visitor dogs. They began walking 10 minutes, 3 times per week and progressed to a 20-minute walk 5 days per week. We monitored their weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and tri-glyceride levels, blood sugar, lean body mass, balance, joint movements, and bone density.
We studied whether older adults who had recently moved into a nursing home could benefit from dog visits. New nursing home residents received 3 visits per week for 6 weeks from either a trained visitor dog and its handler, or a friendly human visitor. We monitored their daily hassles and uplifts, stress (salivary cortisol), anxiety, depression, social support, sense of coherence and loneliness.
Walk a Hound Lose a Pound
This community shelter dog walking study provides adults and families with children an innovative way to increase physical activity. It is an ongoing partnership with the Central Missouri Human Society, the MO Department of Health & Senior Services, and the City of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department. The study consists of weekly (Saturday morning) walks with shelter dogs on a nearby nature trail. Participants are also educated about nutrition and the health benefits of walking. We measure body weight and physical activity levels outside of the program. Our findings show that by taking the dog walks, participants are motivated to further increase their physical activity. The study also increases community awareness about dogs available for adoption. In addition, the dogs become more adoptable through better socialization, more exercise, and leash-walking practice.
Pet Owner Intensive Care Unit Visitation Policies in Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospitals
In this study we surveyed veterinary medical teaching hospitals (VMTH) to learn about their policies for owner visitation of pets hospitalized in the ICU. We found a range of policies and issues associated with this visitation.
Owner Perceptions of Visits with their Hospitalized Pets
In this study we asked dog owners about their perspective on visiting their dog while it was hospitalized in the intensive care unit (ICU) and studied reasons that some dog owners elected not to visit their hospitalized dog. The stress associated with having one’s dog hospitalized in an ICU is a challenge. We found--regardless of sex, that owners believed their visits were as helpful to them as to their dogs.
Ask the Community: Barriers & Facilitators to Exercise & Physical Activity
This study aims to identify existing exercise and physical activity resources in the community, their accessibility for socio-economically challenged people, and what are the ideal components of an exercise and physical activity program in this population. The study is expected to be completed by Fall, 2008 with a second Phase occurring in 2009 in which we develop and test an exercise program based on participants’ recommendations.