Jalila Dogs Dubai
Human-animal therapy has been proven to decrease stress and depression Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: To study the impact of human-animal interaction therapy, Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital in Dubai has launched an animal-assisted therapy programme in collaboration with the ‘Reading Dogs’ initiative of The Animal Agency.

The programme, which will be piloted over three months, will see children treated at the hospital benefit from human-animal interaction therapy sessions with specially-trained dogs.

Feel-good chemicals

The programme builds on human-animal therapy evidence that has been proven to decrease stress and depression by increasing the levels of feel-good chemicals, specifically, serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine in the brain, alongside enhancing relaxation, building trust and empathy and nurturing leadership.

Staying innovative

Dr Mohammed Al Awadhi, COO at Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, said: “Our world-class teams of highly qualified medical experts and paediatricians are setting new standards for paediatric healthcare excellence on a local and regional level. Our hospital is a place where smart technology and design converge to enhance patient care and outcomes. The hospital also aims to foster clinical innovations, astute learning and development programmes and cutting-edge research facilities. Our innovative partnership with Reading Dogs is a natural extension of this.”

Dr Al Awadhi added: “We were delighted that children, parents, and staff enjoyed the first session, and we are looking forward for continuing to support our patients through offering comprehensive and pioneering treatments.”

Human-animal bond

Karalynn Thomson, founder of the Animal Agency and Reading Dogs, said: “The launch of the one-of-a-kind dog-assisted therapy programme with Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital builds on the hospital’s commitment to bringing innovative care to children. We look forward to supporting that mission and helping children on their recovery journeys. Animal-assisted therapy offers patients at the hospital positive interactions in a clinical setting, bringing emotional support at a vulnerable time. The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial relationship between people and animals that positively influences the health and well-being of both. Research, combined with human intuition, recognises the impact the human-animal bond can have on health.”