How Effective is Dog Therapy? – Annotated Bibliography

Brian Koo

Willis, Debra A. “Animal Therapy.” Rehabilitation Nursing 22.2 (1997): 78-81. Wiley Online Library. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.

Animal therapy has been dated back since the early Greeks where horses were used to raise the spirits of people who had a terminal illness.  It has been shown over time that animal therapy is a common type of therapy that has been used all over the world.  Be it dogs or horses, these animals were used to help people feel better from having an illness or being in a state of depression.  This report gave the benefits of using animal therapy (not specifically to dogs but dogs were the main type of animals used) on patients at healthcare locations that treated diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  The results showed that patients who interacted with the therapy dogs on 30-minute sessions became more openly to the workers that were tended to them.  They started conversing a lot more with the workers who had stated before the treatments some patients would hardly ever speak.


“Consumer Health.” Pet Therapy: Man’s Best Friend as Healer. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

This short article explains why and how dog therapy is used in the medical world.  It gives different examples of which type of patients would want to have dog therapy such as children who are having dental procedures.  The article also states the potential risks on having dog therapy and the biggest concern was sanitation.  It explains, however, that strict rules are enforced with therapy dogs to ensure they are vaccinated and well trained.


Odendaal, J.S.J. “Animal-assisted Therapy – Magic or Medicine?” Journal of Psychosomatic Research 49.4 (2000): 275-80. ScienceDirect. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Although this article from the journal is from 2000, the information is still relevant to this day.  A researcher wanted to find out the physiological aspects of humans and dog interactions.  There were 18 people and 18 dogs that took part of this experiment.  The experiment was not directly related to dog therapy but the results supported the positive aspects of dog therapy.  The results came to conclude that different hormones rose in levels in both humans and dogs such as beta-endorphins and prolactin.  Both beta-endorphins and prolactin have been shown to be released at higher levels when a person feels stressed.  However, the main difference between the hormones levels were the results of oxytocin.  It was significantly higher in humans after interacting with their dogs.  Oxytocin usually is a good indicator of the neurochemicals measured for social attachment on intraspecies basis.


Nahm, Nickolas, Jill Lubin, Jeffrey Lubin, Blake K. Bankwitz, McAllister Castelaz, Xin Chen, Joel C. Shackson, Manik N. Aggarwal, and Vicken Y. Totten. “Therapy Dogs in the Emergency Department.” Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, Irvine. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

A study had been conducted on patients at a large, Midwest, urban teaching hospital.  Patients and workers were both given surveys to fill out after therapy dogs were brought into patients.  The article clearly explained that patients who were in critical condition were not conducted in the study.  The total number of patients and workers that the survey was given to were 125 and 105 respectively.  The data gathered showed that 117 patients and 100 workers agreed that therapy dogs helped deal with the anxiety and stress of being at a hospital.


Jalongo, Mary R., and Theresa McDevitt. “Therapy Dogs in Academic Libraries: A Way to Foster Student Engagement and Mitigate Self-Reported Stress during Finals.” Public Services Quarterly. 7 July 2015. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

Stress is a common reaction to a student when a major test or project is coming up.  This article went on to explain why there should be therapy dogs and show the results of experiments that were conducted at a college library.  The library was at Indiana University and the first experiment was conducted on December 2014.  The reason why this month was chosen was because it was the start of finals for the fall semester.  It was perfect since there were many students at the library studying.  This allowed the students to interact with the therapy dogs and this raised publicity for the dogs throughout the campus.  The same experiment was repeated in May 2015 which both produced similar results of students reporting that they enjoyed the therapy dogs and feel a lot less stressed out from worrying about their finals.

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