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J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Aug;45(8):2531-40. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2418-5.

Acquiring a Pet Dog Significantly Reduces Stress of Primary Carers for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Prospective Case Control Study.

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School of Life Sciences, Joseph Banks Laboratories, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, LN6 7DL, UK,


This study describes the impact of pet dogs on stress of primary carers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Stress levels of 38 primary carers acquiring a dog and 24 controls not acquiring a dog were sampled at: Pre-intervention (17 weeks before acquiring a dog), post-intervention (3-10 weeks after acquisition) and follow-up (25-40 weeks after acquisition), using the Parenting Stress Index. Analysis revealed significant improvements in the intervention compared to the control group for Total Stress, Parental Distress and Difficult Child. A significant number of parents in the intervention group moved from clinically high to normal levels of Parental Distress. The results highlight the potential of pet dogs to reduce stress in primary carers of children with an ASD.

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