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Can dogs help with pain management?

Multidisciplinary retreat brought together colleagues from several faculties and patient representatives (some with their dogs) for a two-day retreat at the University of Calgary.

We all know dogs are terrific companions, but have you ever thought that your canine pal may just be able to help you with your chronic pain?

Nursing professor Eloise Carr is studying this topic and recently brought together colleagues from several faculties and patient representatives (and some with their dogs) for a two-day retreat to look at the place where animal and human health intersect.

“The human and animal world have some of the same questions when it comes to pain management,” says Carr. “But veterinarians are way ahead of us in terms of ways to manage it for their canine clients. I wanted to bring a multi-disciplinary group together to develop a research question that could connect those two worlds.”

With the help of a Campus Alberta Public Health Network grant, the retreat identified some over-arching themes including the need to change attitudes and beliefs about chronic pain. Having vets, researchers and patients in attendance and participating in the research, Carr feels, will go a long way toward impacting policy.

“There is no silver bullet for chronic pain management,” she says. “We just need to improve the quality of life for sufferers and there is much to learn from the animal world.”

For more on how pets can help improve our well-being, check out Dog's Best Friend: The Many Upsides of Dog Ownership.