What is it about?

Canine-assisted interventions (CAIs) have physical and psychological benefits for numerous target groups of varying ages and diagnoses. However, the benefits of involving dogs are highly dependent on the animal's health and behavior. A dog exhibiting negative behavior or an unwell dog might pose a risk, especially for CAI target groups. Therefore, positive animal welfare as preventative medicine to avoid incidents or transmission of zoonosis is an attractive hypothesis with implications for human and animal health and well-being. This review aims to summarize the current published knowledge regarding different aspects of welfare in CAIs and discuss their relevance with reference to health and safety for CAI participants.

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Why is it important?

Canine-assisted interventions (CAIs) in which dogs are involved in human therapy, activities, or education have grown exponentially. The choice of CAIs, in preference to more traditional techniques without animals, is based on the expectation that effects may be stronger and occur more rapidly. However, there is little conformity on animal welfare standards due to the diversity in CAI concepts. Moreover, CAIs involve many professionals (veterinarians, human therapists, medical doctors, animal handlers, etc.) who use divergent theoretical frameworks and protocols. This lack of uniformity may impact dogs' well-being and health, posing risks to CAI practitioners and clients, especially for CAI target groups with immune deficiency, chronic illness, children, elderly, etc . Therefore, it is crucial to establish a continuing dialogue between practitioners, regardless of their view on animal welfare.


Writing this article was very interesting, educational, rewarding, and fun. Subsequently, we intend to investigate this area further and publish more insights that facilitate a better understanding of the incredible bond between humans and animals

Lieve Lucia Meers
BIAAT Foundation

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Canine-Assisted Interventions and the Relevance of Welfare Assessments for Human Health, and Transmission of Zoonosis: A Literature Review, Frontiers in Veterinary Science, June 2022, Frontiers,
DOI: 10.3389/fvets.2022.899889.
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