Therapy dogs may improve the emotional well-being of some cancer patients, according to results of a clinical study, the first to document the benefits of animal-assisted therapy in adult cancer patients. The research was made available this week in the Journal of Community and Supportive Oncology.
The study, conducted by researchers at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, found that patients receiving intensive multi-modal concomitant radiation therapy and chemotherapy for gastrointestinal, head or neck cancers experienced increases in emotional well-being and quality of life when they received visits from a certified therapy dog during the course of their treatment. Increases in emotional well-being were significant over the course of the animal-assisted visits, even as patients underwent marked and significant declines in both physical and functional well-being. The research was supported by The Good Dog Foundation, the leading provider of professionally trained, fully certified and supervised volunteer therapy dog teams; Zoetis, a leading global animal health company; and the Pfizer Foundation.
“This study is the first such definitive study in cancer, and it highlights the merits of animal- assisted visits using the same scientific standards as we hold for the cancer treatment itself. It shows the importance of an innovative environmental intervention during cancer treatment,” said Stewart B. Fleishman, MD, principal investigator and Founding Director of Cancer Supportive Services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “Having an animal-assisted visit significantly improved their quality of life and ‘humanized’ a high-tech treatment,” he said. “Patients said they would have stopped their treatments before completion, except for the presence of the certified Good Dog Foundation therapy dog and volunteer handler.”
An Emerging Role for Animal-Assisted Therapy
Identification of a creative tool to boost patients’ emotional state, especially in face of the high symptom burden for patients receiving concurrent radiation therapy and chemotherapy, underscored the value of an intervention that can be offered in cancer centers nationally and internationally.
“Thanks to this rigorously designed study, we now have strong evidence that pet therapy is an effective tool to help cancer patients get through challenging treatments,” said Gabriel A. Sara, MD, Medical Director, Infusion Suite at Mount Sinai Roosevelt, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“There is mounting evidence in human and veterinary medicine that the emotional bond between people and companion animals can have a positive impact of emotional and physical health,” said J. Michael McFarland, DVM, DABVP, Zoetis group director of Companion Animal Veterinary Operations. “These new results help advance our understanding of the value of animal-assisted therapy in cancer treatment and point to the ways the oncology and animal health communities can work together in supporting cancer patients achieve the best possible treatment outcomes.”
Rachel McPherson, Executive Director and Founder of The Good Dog Foundation added: “We are excited to see the results of this peer-reviewed study, which bears out scientifically what we have seen
Zymox Topical Cream for Hot Spots & Skin Infections The most common skin condition both dogs and cats can be afflicted with are hot spots. They are characterized by itchy, raw, sometimes bloody patches of skin. In addition to managing hot spots the Zymox topical cream and spray is ideal in wound care as well as other common skin infections. Regardless if bacterial, fungal or yeast and they can be applied 1x/day as needed with no pre-cleaning or scrubbing of the skin because the LP3 Enzyme System reacts with the infectious pus and debris to form its antimicrobial properties. Pre-cleaning and cleaning during use disrupts this biological system and will negatively affect results. Zymox is safe, gentle and non-toxic and worry-free if a pet licks application site. Both contain hydrocortisone for inflammation relief. The topical cream features a catheter tip which is ideal for hard to reach applications such as skin folds. Recommended for use on wounds and the most troublesome skin infections. BACTERIAL Surface Infection: Pyotraumatic dermatitis hot spots, wet eczema, acute moist pyoderma Body fold pyoderma Superficial Infections: Impetigo Superficial and generalized pyoderma Staphyococcus ssp (including MRSA) Pseudomonas ssp. FUNGAL Superficial Mycoses: Microsporum, Trichopyton, Epidermophyton (ringworm) Yeast: Malassezia pachydermatis, Candida albicans
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