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Health and dogs

The Health Link Between Your Dog and Cerebral Palsy

Your dog comes in and you suddenly feel that stimulus, words forming out of your mouth, “hello boy” you keep silent as you eagerly wait for a response that only a man’s best friend can give. Without any warning you realize the smile painted on your face. How can that be? Can dogs REALLY have such a great effect on humans?


In 2017 a case study took place and researchers discovered that a family dog can assist ‘children’ with cerebral palsy in healthy lifestyles. I bet you are not surprised, because you and I know a dog's potential! Dogs are the best listeners. They don’t drown you with unwanted advice but rather sit by your side as you cry, laugh, work or rest. They offer unconditional love!


This case study examined the individual effects of an adapted physical activity, animal-assisted intervention with the family dog on motor skills, physical activity and quality of life of a child with cerebral palsy. The physical activities were performed once a week for 60 minutes, this was done especially because these kids are at risk for low participation. For decades we’ve been told that physical activity is important for healthy living but does everyone do it? No. But your dog will, he/she will love it! Let’s go boy! They run faster than you as they want to lead you through the right path. Their joy of running is seen as the speed of light.


Since dogs have great instincts, great sense of hearing and smell better than humans, they will win your trust. They will get you exercising and without realizing will keep you fit so they can enjoy your company for years to come. Interestingly, this research discovered that, “children with a family dog were 49% more likely to achieve the recommended amount of physical activity per week compared to children who were non family dog owners.” Furthermore, “the participant decreased sedentary behavior by 38% and increased time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity by 300%.” No wonder this research found positive results for child health. The gains that were observed in each child assisted by their family dog is evidence much needed by many parents and carers of a child challenge by cerebral palsy. Since their role is so legitimate and valuable, they deserve the best. Your dog is a family member, they deserve love, the best place to sleep, quality food just like the rest of the family, and the best medical treatment when needed.


Alejandra Lopez

B.N. Western Sydney University, MA Management (Nurs) Newcastle University.



Tepfer et. al. (2017), Family Dog-Assisted Adapted Physical Activity: A Case Study Animals: an Open Access Journal from MDPI, 7(5), doi:10.3390/ani7050035

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