A study carried out by researchers in Sweden, and published in the journal Anthrozoos, has revealed that therapy dogs could be used to treat or prevent the development of cardiovascular disease in the elderly by lowering blood pressure of residents in a nursing home.
The authors concluded ‘These findings suggest that visits by a therapy dog–handler team might constitute an effective non-medical treatment for elevated blood pressure and heart rate in older adults. This type of treatment may in the future be used to treat, to prevent, or to delay the development of cardiovascular disease in older people. It may also promote health in a more general sense and decrease use of pharmaceutical drugs, which might be associated with undesirable side effects.’
The study was carried out by by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the University of Skovde, Sweden.