Dogs have long been called 'man's best friend', and in recent years they have helped in ever more specialized ways, often in medical contexts. Therapy dogs go onto hospital wards and into care homes to bring comfort and lower stress. Medical detection dogs can help by sniffing out certain cancers or alerting diabetic owners when their blood sugar levels fall to dangerously low levels. In the future they may be able to help control the spread of malaria and certain kinds of bacteria.
All of this helping can take a toll; recent years have seen increasing concern amongst vets and researchers about the stresses dogs and other companion animals are subject to as they help their owners. We need to know more about how to help our helpers to continue to help us.
For this panel, Anna Garvey, a vet and research student at the University of Bristol, will be talking about the health of companion animals. Elena Ratschen, from the University of York, will speak to the state of academic research into human animal interactions -- what is the evidence that companion animals are good for us. Speakers from Medical Detection Dogs and Pets as Therapy will be talking about the current roles and future possibilities that of companions in looking after human health. Their dogs will be coming too.