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Therapy dogs lower blood pressure in the elderly
Therapy dogs could be used to treat or prevent the development of cardiovascular disease in the elderly.
Researchers assess effect of dogs on nursing home residents

A study by researchers in Sweden has revealed that therapy dogs could be used to treat or prevent the development of cardiovascular disease in the elderly.

The study, published in the journal Anthrozoos, investigated whether repeat visits by a therapy dog to a nursing home might affect the blood pressure and heart rate of its residents.

The investigation involved two consecutive experiments - a dog study (two researchers and a therapy dog) and a control study (two researchers alone). Each group visited three nursing homes over three different periods, during which researchers measured the heart rate and blood pressure of residents at 0 and 20 minutes of each visit.

In the control study, researchers found that the participants’ heart rate and blood pressure did not change significantly. In the dog study, however, researchers found that participants had a much lower blood pressure compared with those in the control.

‘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,’ the authors conclude.

‘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. 

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”