HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Not coffee - "Petting dogs" article (73 lines)
1) From: Brian Kamnetz
Hi,
A few days ago on the list mention was made of this article. Here it is for 
any who are interested:
PETTING PUPPIES PUTS PEOPLE IN POSITIVE MOODS
Newswise -- The next time a dog comes bounding up to you for a wet, sloppy
kiss and a good belly rub, don't back away. In an ongoing study, a
University of Missouri-Columbia researcher has found that interacting and
petting animals creates a hormonal response in humans that can help fight
depression.
"Our preliminary results indicate that levels of serotonin, a hormone
in humans that helps fight depression, rise dramatically after
interaction with live animals, specifically dogs," said Rebecca
Johnson, MU professor of nursing and veterinary medicine, who
presented these initial findings at the Companion Animals: Fountains
of Health conference at Barcelona Autonomous University last month.
"This hormone is critical in the psychological well-being of an
individual. In addition, we have discovered that there is no
substitute for the real thing."
In her study, Johnson, along with Richard Meadows, clinical associate
professor of veterinary medicine, is asking dog owners and non-pet
owners to play with a live animal or a robot dog for a few minutes at
a time. Johnson draws blood from the human and the dog prior to and
after the interaction and then compares the blood for hormone levels.
People taking part in the study ranged in age from 19 to 73.
Preliminary results indicate a significant increase in the levels of
serotonin following interaction with the live dog, Johnson said.
"In addition to serotonin, we also are seeing increases in the amounts
of prolactin and oxytocin, more of those 'feel good' hormones,"
Johnson said. "Our research also is trying to determine what types of
people would best benefit from being with animals. By showing this
benefit, we can help pet-assisted therapy become a medically accepted
intervention that might be prescribed to patients."
"One previous study done in South Africa by Dr. Johannes Odendaal
looked at less parameters than the current study and it also found
that the interactions were beneficial for both the people and the
dogs," Meadows said.
"We expect to see the same benefit to the canines
in our study - good for the dogs and the people - a true 'win-win'
situation."
The study also indicates that interacting with the robot dog actually
decreases levels of serotonin in humans. These preliminary findings
could be helpful to psychologists or psychiatrists who want to
complement their treatment to a patient suffering from depression,
Johnson said. The researchers expect to have final results of the
study in the fall.
"We also need to study how the animals react to this attention,"
Johnson said. "It's important to know when we take dogs to nursing
homes or hospitals for therapy if they are feeling any kind of stress.
We need to find the right balance where both animals and humans can
benefit from interacting with each other."
The Skeeter Foundation from Veterinary Pet Insurance sponsored the
study with a $125,000 grant.


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