Can puppy love heal cancer?
Washington: The unconditional and unflinching love dogs shower on humans might be useful in curing various ailments including cancer, says a study.
A new research titled 'Canines and Childhood Cancer Study' is analysing the effect of animal-assisted therapy on children diagnosed with cancer.
"It is important to bring evidence-based science and rigorous data to what we already know...," said Robin Ganzert, president of the American Humane Association.
Children will be enrolled during the next 15 months and the study will review the child-animal bond, she added.
Health professionals and animal lovers have myriad anecdotal stories that the study will attempt to quantify in data.
"With a therapy dog visit, our young cancer patients stop being patients and become children again," said Stephanie Cooper Greenberg, who is part of a therapy dog team at John Hopkins University.
They provide a much-needed break from the crushing demands of treatments, tests and infusions, Greenberg added.
Five children's hospitals will collect data in the clinical trial.
"Studies like this are vital for providing an evidence-based medicine which will help us improve public health," said Deborah Linder, principal investigator for the trial in Massachusetts.
In addition to cancer patients, the study will also consider the impact on parents or care givers, healthcare workers, the dog and its handler.
As many as 200 therapy dogs may be involved in the study.