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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dogs Are Good Medicine

What do some child psychologists, neurologists and family therapists have in common? They use dogs as adjuncts in their medical practices.

A two-page spread is yesterday’s Wall Street Journal features numerous photographs of health care professionals accompanied by the dogs they use in their clinical practices. (URL below) There is even a flashback to Sigmund Freud and his Chou named Jofi.

Veterinarians and physicians use the term “One Health” to describe the growing awareness that animals and people share many health problems. Diseases like Salmonella or influenza are well known examples, but even some environmental-induced cancers are similar in animals and people.

However, "One Health" also refers to contributions that animals make to human health. Whether controlling obesity through encouraging exercise, lowering blood pressure, managing stress or providing companionship to senior citizens, dogs and other pets often part of a holistic human health strategy.

Cornell-trained veterinarian Dr. Kate Hodgson works with family practice doctors in Canada, helping them understand both the health risks and benefits of pets as members of the family.

Dr. Hodgson is a prominent speaker at the One Health symposium to be held during the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando, Florida on January 17th. Other participating Cornell-educated veterinarians are program chair Dr. Hayley Weston Murphy who is the chief veterinarian at Zoo Atlanta, and speaker Dr. Flo Tseng, environmental and population health expert at Tufts University. 

I present the opening paper on the history of One Health and also the closing paper of the day on future challenges and opportunities. The Wall Street Journal article will provide a good backdrop for my remarks, as well as for an evening address by American Medical Association president, Dr. Cecil B. Wilson.