Do Dogs Make Us Physically and Mentally Healthier?



Humans have long realized that dogs can help us achieve important goals. This is evident from our earliest interactions involving the shared goal of avoiding predators and acquiring food to the more recent inclusion of dogs in healthcare settings. This presentation will summarize the body of scientific evidence on the ways that dogs contribute to human health including physical and mental health, cognition and learning, and how these potential benefits might change over the lifespan of the human. The strength of the evidence is considered and a best practice example is provided in the context of a hospital setting.

Dr. Nancy Gee is the Bill Balaban Chair in Human-Animal Interaction, Professor of Psychiatry & Director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. Her primary research focus has examined the fundamental question of how and under what circumstances the presence or involvement of a companion animal may impact cognitive functioning in humans across their developmental lifespan. Additionally, Dr. Gee’s work has examined how language learning impacts memory performance, both implicitly and explicitly.

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