Dr McCullough reported that the investigators see positive reactions from the staff during each session. Video demonstrates nurses and physicians interacting with the dogs, in addition to the children and their parents. The children talk about the dogs instead of their procedures. If children are upset in the clinic, the dogs help calm them. The dogs also help to distract patients from procedures that may be unpleasant or painful. Some hospitals keep a jar of dog treats at the nurses’ station, indicating that dogs are welcome and reinforcing that the therapy dog intervention has a positive impact on nursing staff as well.

The researchers are looking forward to analyzing final data by early 2017. They are hopeful that the outcome will continue to show with scientific rigor that young cancer patients experience positive results from interacting with therapy dogs.


1. McCullough A, Jenkins M, Ruehrdanz A. The effects of animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) for pediatric oncology patients, their parents, and therapy dogs at five hospital sites. Presentation at: American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition; October 24-27, 2015; Washington, DC; Abstract 30412.

2. PedsQL™ Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory™. Available at: Accessed November 17, 2015.

3. Spielberger CD, Gorsuch RL, Lushene PR, Vagg PR, Jacobs GA. Manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press; 1983.

Related Video:

“Canines and Childhood Cancer” Study  by the American Humane Association.