Thursday, 6 August 2020

My journey with Therapy (lets talk about this more)

 Hello lovely people I hope that you are having a wonderful summer despite this whole COVID thing… and actually thinking about it maybe its not summer where you are but I hope you’re having a great whatever season. Today I wanted to talk to you about something that I have been going through recently that I’ve spoken about on my Instagram and I truly believe should be spoken about more online and in social media.


My journey with therapy, coming from a university that has had many issues with student mental health in the past, I want to tell you about my experience and things that I may have done differently if I were to do it again. I want to firstly say that this is in no way me taking a dig at Bristol university’s pastoral care or mental health aid. I originally went to my GP in Bristol back in November 2019, at that point I was recommended to contact the NHS mental health service, I had a telephone consult and I was told that I was being put on a waiting list for 5 months. For me this was hard to hear because at the time I was going through a really low period, however at the same time I kept telling myself that there were many others much more deserving than me of help from the NHS. I waited for the 5 months and I heard nothing from the NHS, now I know that especially in Bristol the NHS mental health service is stretched very thin it being a large student city with two universities. 

If I were to try and attempt to get help again I think I would have utilised the help offered by the veterinary school, the reason I didn’t go for this first time was because I believed that my mental health and the issues I was experiencing weren’t linked to my degree and I didn’t want to try and get help for something that wasn’t linked to my course. Of course I cannot say if it would have helped me or not. But I do think that it would have been interesting to pursue that route of help. 

In the end I decided to fund my own therapy, of course I am privileged enough to be able to afford to pay for my own therapy and I know that many aren’t hence why for me I did decided to pay for it myself and not continue to pursue the NHS route. So during quarantine I start a 6 session therapy journey and I have just completed it. I truly believe that it has helped me, I worked through many things that I have been struggling with for years and I have learnt to notice my detrimental traits and control them before I go into a downwards spiral. I realised that I had set my whole ideal of being an adult as “ being on top of everything”, I had always been told at school that I was so adult and mature because I was always on top of everything and always on time with my work and dedicated to my swimming. Back in those days I was basically working like a robot I never gave myself time to rest, swimming was my life and my downtime and my one true love. I made myself believe after school and once I started uni that my body could continue to do that amount of work, answer simply was, it couldn’t… Last year at uni I trained for rowing which wasn’t my sport looking back on it and I think that I was using all the training time to distract from how I was actually feeling and how knackered my body was, to be honest I have no idea how I actually managed to do so much in my first year of university. In my second year my mental health really had its ups and downs, hence why I sought out therapy. 

The actual therapy sessions, now these sessions were 1 hour long and mostly it was just me full on verbal diarrhoea(ing) everything and nothing, for me it was so nice to get all the things off my chest and just talk through things I wasn’t sure about. I did find it a struggle trying to work on things that I wasn’t directly experiencing at university. I definitely think I will go back once I have restarted university because knowing me I will fall back into my old ways and habits of burning the candle  at both ends. I have come so far on my mental health journey, and it is exactly as I said a journey, there are plateaus, mountains to climb and skies to soar in. I’m not saying that I am “cured” or that I am healed this is something that I and everyone else who has struggled with their mental health will have to deal with every single day. Something we must work through and grow through to become stronger better people.


I believe that this needs to be spoken about more in the media and in general, I have always looked up to my mum and she has been my inspiration, I thought that she was always on top of everything and managing everything the world had to throw at her, turns out this isn’t always the case and I feel like if she had talked to me about it then maybe I wouldn’t have had such a set belief in that being an adult is to be on top of all things at all times. So please if you are still reading, 1; well done, 2; please know that you are worthy of seeking help, 3; there are others going through the same thing, speak out to a friend or family member and I’m sure they will help even if just a little. Know that you are enough and if you would like I will always be here to listen and chat about everything and nothing simply message me on my Instagram simply_fit_sam. I hope that your weekend is wonderful and you enjoy the sunshine! Just remember everyday is a new day and to simply smile could make someone’s day 😊

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

How dogs affect Us socially Physologically and Physically (my EPQ)

How do dogs affect us socially, physically and psychologically?

Disclaimer before you read this, I wrote this in 2016 back when I was a school, I still believe in the idea of this research, however I am sure that now there will be many more research on this topic so if you would like to read further into this please do further your reading, I recommend vet times, the vet record, and any research papers you can get your hand on if you are lucky enough to have Medline or Web of Science.

I have been looking into how our dogs can affect and help us in our day to day lives. They affect us in many ways they can make us feel happy, accepted and understood, due to a chemical and hormonal effect on our brains, they can keep us in shape, and they can help with therapy. Not only this they can help people in need like guide dogs, hearing dogs, seizure dogs and many more. Dogs can also help in social situations.  These points have been investigated by scientists and psychologists around the world. However to experiment with how we are affected by the Human Animal Interaction, many precautions must be taken to create a fair, just and solid, reliable set of results. I'm going to be looking into how dogs can have these effects on people and how these effects can be justified and claimed as scientifically proven and how some of these effects are just claimed but not proven.

There are many problems that can occur when trying to investigate who our pets specifically our dog affect us, many factors have to be taken into account to make the results of the investigation liable for scientific use.  When carrying out a human animal interaction investigation (HAI) there are many factors that need to be considered this is called multi factual. During investigations for the Human Animal Interactions, the owners who love their dogs very much will try to tell the researchers how much their dogs help them; this can lead to bias results.(1). When dealing with how children are affected by animals it is very hard to gain solid research because of the many different things that can be linked with children and the parent will try to interpret the child and they may do it wrong or write down false evidence, meaning that the data would be unreliable. So therefore to produce a research paper for HAI that is accepted by scientific boards is very hard, and though many investigations are done only a handful are picked to be certified.

Our dogs can have many effects on us and the children that the encounter. It has long been thought that animals can help our children develop, and many experiments have been carried out under close regulations to meet the scientific guidelines to see the proof of this claim. These tests include a test done by Dolgin & Behrend in 1984 (2) which asked 5 year old children if a stuffed dog that looked like a real dog and acted like one if it could turn into a real dog, the majority of the children said no and insisted that this dog couldn’t turn into a real dog. This confirms the fact that animals help our children to perceptually develop, because the understanding that a life like dog can’t turn into a real dog requires understanding of life. Another experiment done by Kidd & Kidd 1987(3) showed that toddlers and infants responded by smiling or making a noise more frequently towards a pet dog or cat than a battery “life-like” toy. A similar study by LoBue et al 2013(4) found that young children aged 11-40 months would prefer to look at an animal behind a glass screen (even if asleep) rather than play with a toy.  This shows that even from a young age children acknowledge living animals and are more intent with them allowing the children to learn from and start to understand pets such as dogs. Other studies have shown that kids with a pet have a greater biological understanding than those without pets for example; Do dogs have a heart?   The children with pets answered yes however the children without had more, no, (wrong) answers than those with pets (5). The children with pets also showed a greater understanding into the consequences of overfeeding this shows a firm sign of cognitive development. Furthermore studies have shown that pets can help children’s social-emotional development, for example nearly half of 69 Scottish 9-12 year olds said that their most important relationship is with their pet (Kosonen 1996)(6). One of the troubles of investigating the child-pet emotional bond is that many factors have to be taken into account for example geology, family life, and many more to combat this Parker &Asher in 1993 proposed (7). Can the child-pet relationship be compared to a peer relationship? To do this they would have to see if the peer observations matched the child-pet observations i.e. Conflict/resolution, conflict/betrayal, companionship/recreation, help/guidance, validation/caring. With exception to conflict dimensions all these have been seen with the child pet bond (7). This allows us to see that children do socially and emotionally develop with the aid of pets. Children can also develop morally with the help of dogs a recent study (Melson, Kahn, Beck, Friedman, Roberts et al. 2009) of 7-15 year olds were interviewed about the moral claims and proper treatment of an unfamiliar but friendly dog which they had spent a brief time playing with(8). The children expressed strong emotions on condemnation of acts of omission (seeking treatment for the dogs hurt leg) or commission (destroying the dog if no longer wanted).Analysis of these judgements showed that children were arguing for the inherent moral claims of the animal. One child, in an outraged tone, asked; “what if you hurt your leg?”(8) Not only do pets such as dogs help children to develop they can also provide children with a much needed play mate, for example it has been found that a child with ADHD is suited to a large playful dog that can match the child’s energy levels(9). One body of evidence shows the stress-reducing effect of have a friendly animal (usually dog) present. This can be seen by a lowering a HR and seeing the physical state of the child like a smile and the muscle tension of the child (10). Many tests have been done to prove that dogs help children, who are undergoing stressful conditions; (Katcher, Friedman, Beck, & Lynon, 1997) found that in the presence of a friendly unfamiliar dog while reading aloud moderates the expected increase in blood pressure (11 pg 169?). And a study of school children waiting for dental surgery showed less physiologic arousal when waiting with a friendly but unfamiliar dog (Havener et al. 2001)(12). Finally a study of 7-8 year olds in the UK identified their pets more frequently than humans as providing comfort (McNicolas & Collis 2001)(13). Child obesity is becoming a larger problem in western cultures; obesity can lead to a higher CVD risk and a higher risk to contract type 2 diabetes (14). Owning a dog increases the amount of physical activity children take part in, for example playing or walking the dog, this can have a significant effect on levels of activity in children which is important because when a study was carried out in Australia by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aging in 2008 found that only 38% of boys and 25% of girls met the recommended amount of daily physical activity suggested by the government (15). Dogs can help with this problem by encouraging playful behaviour and walking. All of these investigations give us a small insight into how dogs help and allow our children to develop and grow up with an understanding of animals and a bond with dogs that promises unconditional love.

There are many health and physical benefits to owning a dog and many studies have shown that people who own a dog are more physically healthy than those who don’t own a dog; this can be seen by resting heart rate, weight and blood pressure. A study done by the American Heart Association has linked the ownership of a domestic pet, especially a dog, with a reduced risk of heart disease and better longevity (16). Not only this, studies have found that people who own dogs have a lower blood pressure in stressful circumstances(17), one study even found that people with borderline hypertension when they adopted a dog from a shelter showed greatly declined blood pressure within 5 months(18). Heart attack patients who own a dog are found to live longer than those without dogs.

All pets
No pets
No-dog pets
50 (94%)
24 (72%)
10 (100%)
78 (85%)
3 (6%)
11 (28%)
0 (0%)
14 (15%)

Dr Alan Beck. PAWSitive InterAction Summit, May 2002.
One year survival rate after a heart attack was found to be 94% among pet owners (50 out of 53 owners were alive one year after a heart attack). Among those who did not own pets only 72% survived. This effect was also seen among pet owners who had pets other than dogs. (19)

Dr Edward Creagan, a professor of medical oncology at the Mayo Clinic, had a cancer patient who was very ill but determined to make it home to see ‘Max’. “I thought he was talking about this son, Max, or Maxine, his wife, it turns out he was talking about his dog, Max. We can no longer ignore the medical significance on the bond people have with their pets. There is a rock-solid, indisputable mind-body connection that is vectored by our pets. Out pets create a balance between our minds and our bodies” (20) this just shows how strong the bond between humans are their dogs is, it can allow us to become physically better though this mental bond. Dogs unlike cats can also help us adopt a healthy active lifestyle, because dog owners feel the need to walk their dogs every day just through moral decency. Many studies have found that dog owner are much more likely to go for a walk even if the weather is horrid compared to those who don’t own dogs, and that dog owners are more likely to meet the daily exercise requirement (21). One year-long study found that walking an overweight dog helped both the dog and their owners lose weight. Researchers found that the dogs provided the support in similar ways to a human exercise buddy (22). Not only can dogs help our physical appearance like losing weight, they can also improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and maintaining the heart rate through stressful situations (17). In 2002 a study, researchers found measured changes in HR and BP of people who owned a dog compared to those who didn’t when the participants were performing timed tasks. Owners of dogs had a lower resting HR at the beginning than non-dog owners. Owners were also less likely to experience spikes in HR and have less errors during a maths task (23). All of these finding indicated that owning a dog lowered the risk of heart disease as well as improving performance. However the research on asthma and allergies is mixed (24). Owning a dog may not affect or might protect against specific dog allergies, though more research needs to be done into whether owning a dog has a positive or negative affect on allergies.

Dogs have been found to help older people as well. For old people their pets play a pivotal role for their health and well-being. It has been proven that stroking a pet when you have arthritis, not only calms the pet but can have a soothing effect on the arthritic inflammation (25). Not only this but dogs an help older people to find joy in life, as you age you lose things that were once important to you by the time of retirement all of your kids will have moved far away and you have no carrier to keep you occupied.  So owning a dog can bring pleasure and happiness to an otherwise quiet life, they can boost confidence and morale. As people get older many mental disorders can come into play like dementia in a study carried out by a dementia unit for US veterans found that the use of a pet dog elicited more social behaviours like talking and smiling in the presence of a dog, showing that dogs may help the elderly not only for cognition but other things as well (26). Even adopting an older dog from a shelter can add to a sense of fulfilment, however some may argue that that older dog may have to be euthanized, which would create a whole new grief for an older person . I do agree with that argument, however owning a dog is one of the most rewarding things that can be done. Even if the dog of an older person has to be put down I believe that, especially if it was an old rescue dog, the owner should be happy and proud that they gave that dog an amazing end to its life. As well as bringing joy into an older persons life dogs can also help retired, older people stay connected (27). Because as you grow older illness, death or relocation of family can leave an older person lonely, a dog not only provides companionship but walking a dog can help owners spark new friendships with other dog owners and allow them to meet new people (28). There are many physical challenges associated with aging to overcome these it is vital that you look after yourself, dogs can encourage playfulness, laughter and exercise which all boost the immune system and increase energy levels which boost vitality (29). Even dogs that don’t live with older people can have a benefit, many dogs visit nursing homes weekly which brings some joy to the pensioners day, as previously mentioned stroking a dog can reduce arthritic inflammation. An uncontrolled study on animals assisted therapy within 2 US nursing homes dealing with demented patients who had a MMSE score of 15 or below who were treated with AAT ( animal assisted therapy), for 1 hours each day they met with a dog and its trainer (30). The patients could take part in many activities like, feeding, petting, grooming the dog and socialising with the trainer, talking about previous pets they had owned, the patients on average showed 25% less behavioural disturbance (30). Not only this, but the affect that dogs can have on the stress levels of a situation can reduce blood pressure. 11 elderly individuals with hypertension, mean age 81.3, were required to speak in the presence of a dog and in the absence of a dog, while having their blood pressure measured. The individuals who spoke in the presence of a dog showed much lower diastolic blood pressure than those who spoke without a dog (31). However there can be dangers to elderly people owning pets, for example falling over the pet and fracturing a bone, which is easier to do when you are older because bones become more brittle as you age. The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention found that there were 86,629 falls per year linked with pets, that’s an average injury rate of 29.7 per 100,000 people from 2001 to 2006 (32).A study in Australia found 16 fractures to the elderly who were at least 65, most of the individuals injured had tripped over a pet or fell while feeding the pet (32). Pets like dogs also have the capability to pass on zoonotic diseases and infections, which can be very harmful to elderly people. Similarly a dog could inflict traumatic injuries like a scratch or bite which could become infected and lead to something very serious due to the immune system of an elderly person being weaker than that of a younger person.

Dogs can have many effects on us psychologically; this is due to the strong human-animal bond that we share with our dogs. One of the many ways our dogs can help us is when we are suffering from depression. We are naturally drawn to keep dogs as companion animals, this is due to the fact that they love unconditionally and are always there to listen, they don’t judge either this can help someone suffering from depression feel better about themselves and want to go out and be more positive (33). Just walking your dog can help if you are depressed because it makes you get out of the house and meet other people walking their dogs, they could be complete strangers it doesn’t matter, when depressed keeping yourself isolated and cut off can make things much worse. So walking your dog, meeting people and socialising can really help. When suffering from depression you may not feel like getting out of bed, but owning a dog provides you with a sense of motivation, you are responsible the their wellbeing and providing the 5 freedoms. This means that at the very least you will get out of bed and care for the dog and get on with your life. Not only this but dogs can help you cope with stresses of life and frustrations among other things. Due to the fact that dogs exist as pack animals with a calm and consistent leadership, so you have to provide this and control your emotions for your dog’s sake (34). Following this, studies have shown that playing with a dog can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine which calm and relax this can allow us some peace at the end of the day, and it has also been proven that people who own dogs are less likely to suffer from depression than those without dogs (35). Dogs can also help reduce anxiety; they can provide comfort and can help you build self-esteem. They can do this because dogs live in the moment they only think about the here and now, this can help us to be more mindful, to live and have joy in the present (36). Not only this but dogs can affect our stress levels, just moving and touching a dog are two really good ways to reduce stress levels quickly, this is due to the fact that blood pressure is reduced by this and so we feel less stressed because our blood pressure is lower (37). It is known that part of having Alzheimer’s disease causes you to have behavioural problems and can’t deal with stress. So research done by the University of California found that patient’s suffering from Alzheimer’s suffered fewer anxious outbursts if there was a dog at home (38). Furthermore a well-trained dog can help sooth patients with this condition by providing nonverbal communication and reduce aggressive behaviour. Dogs can also help teach young children to grow up showing empathy, compassion and to take responsibility, showing that not only can dogs help us immediately with short term effects they can also shape us as we grow and the type of people we become. One way in which dogs can help people and affect them mentally is with Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) this is carried out in hospitals and has been proved to help patient with psychiatric problems. In 1998 a study of 241 patients, one group of patients took part in AAT sessions, where it was noted that they showed significantly less anxiety for patients with mood and psychotic disorders (39). It has been said by Dr Marty Becker, veterinarian, author, human-animal bond guru. “I believe having a pet has all the benefits of an antidepressant drug, and more- but without a single side effect. Pets play a vital role in ameliorating the effects of chronic medical conditions” (40). And as mental disorders are becoming recognised and a serious medical problem I feel that we can use this benefit of what the animals can do to us to help with these major disorders. The human animal bond has also affected hardened prisoners in a few of America’s prisons. Significantly a programme in Colorado called CCI, this is a 12 week programme that involves selected inmates who are serving life sentences, they provide training for dogs that may have otherwise been put down and they train them to be family pets or assistance dogs (41). This programme gives the prisoners a skill set that they can use for a job in later life, not only this but it teaches these inmates compassion, leadership and mindfulness. Also from the perspective of the inmates many say that they love training the dogs because it allows them to feel good about themselves and have a sense of self-worth, like they are giving back to the community, also after a prisoner has been released after serving a sentence where they trained a dog, the average percentage of re offences is 8-11% which is very very low. So these dogs change these prisoners and make them into better people, make them trusted again (42).

Behind the psychological affect are the chemical affects that are catalysts of the psychological effects. It has long been known that interactions with friendly dogs can calm and reduce our stress levels. When we have interactions with animals we have a release of the hormone called oxytocin which provides a stress reliving effect (43). Oxytocin does this by reducing the levels of the hormone that causes stress called cortisol. This hormone cortisol, is needed to support our survival under stressful circumstances, however if cortisol is at a high level within the body it can lead to a weakening of the immune system and increase in cholesterol. The hormone oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus, an important control centre in the brain. It has many effects on the body which is why we feel better when we stroke a dog. For example oxytocin increases social interactions and lessens fear by affecting the amygdala (Amico, Mantella, Vollmer, & Li, 2004; Uvnas-Moberg, Ahlenius, Hillegaart, & Alster, 1994) (44). Oxytocin also counteracts aggression and arousal by affecting the locus caeruleus, which are aggression and wakefulness neurons. Furthermore oxytocin affects parts of the sympathetic nerve system regulating the cardiovascular system, which causes lower BP and an increased skin temperature ( Petersson, Lundeberg, & Uvnas-Moberg, 1999) (45). (there is a picture missing here of the study, to see it please look it up in the book that is seen in the reference) A study was done measuring the oxytocin and cortisol levels in humans after a 3 minute interaction period between the owner and their dog. The results can be seen on these two graphs.  

Cortisol is produced in the adrenal gland and is released in a response to physical activity and stress. It increases the amount of blood glucose and it increase blood pressure. This is why it is interesting to see the levels of the two hormones produced when interacting with a dog because it is physical activity however it is and interaction that causes oxytocin to be released and the levels of cortisol to be reduced. So these hormones are the reason for the mental effects we experience when interacting with dogs (46).

For many year people have realised how dogs can be trained to assist us and help us in our day to day lives. This aid has been adapted into many things; we now have guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, dogs that can sense seizures before they happen, support dogs, some have been trained to smell for the chemicals that cancer gives off, we also have support dogs. All of these forms of assistance affect people in their day to day lives, for example a guide dog allows a person who would otherwise be dependent on others to have some freedom in life and feel safe while doing it, this not only makes the blind person feel happy, because they are independent and have a bond with their pet that is so special, but also their families can stay calm in the knowledge that their relative is safe and looked after. This is the case of all the other disability assistance dogs.  There is also thought that dogs could be taught to tell when a human who is diabetic is having a low, this has not been proven however when a test was carried out it was found that in most cases the dog would try to alert the owners before they realised that they were having a low the dogs can do this in the same way they can smell cancer, they can smell the breath of a person which will tell them if the person is having a hypoglycaemic episode by nudging the person or signalling so that the person checks their blood sugar levels and they get something to eat (47). This has also been proven to be the case in cancer detecting dogs, who can smell the chemicals given off by some sorts of cancer, this has the possibility to have a major effect on us, in 2012 there were 161,823 death (48) caused by cancer in the UK alone, some of those deaths could have been prevented if the cancer was detected earlier which is where these cancer dogs can come in and could detect some of these cancers sooner so that more people can say that they survived cancer. The reason dogs can smell cancer is because the can smell in parts per trillion to put this into perspective one cc (less than a drop) of blood, put into 20 Olympic sized swimming pools (49). The dog can smell with ease that there’s blood in the pool. So when there is a slight change in someone’s breath due to the cancerous chemicals in their body the dog can sense this and alert people. We can normally smell cancer in stages 3 or 4 whereas dogs can smell it at stages 0-2 which gives people a much larger chance of surviving cancer.

Having a dog is seen to aid people towards becoming more sociable. Studies have shown that people trust others, even if they are strangers, who own a dog more than other strangers (50). Not only this but owning a dog can provide the same social interactions as a human friendship  (51). Owning a dog allows us to practice social and caring skills that can be modified and applied to humans. A study looking into how a friendly animal in a humans company can affect the social interactions between humans Wells (2004) studies the behaviour of 1800 strangers with regards to a female experimenter under 6 conditions: accompanied by a Labrador puppy, by an adult Labrador, an adult Rottweiler, a teddy bear, a plant or the control conditions on being alone with her. By herself was when the experimenter was most ignored, more than with the teddy and the plant, and she got most attention in the presence of a dog. However the Rottweiler lead to more non-responses than the Lab puppy and adult Lab, who created smiles and verbal responses (52). It has also been proven that children with autism or other developmental disorders have an improved interpersonal behaviour after undergoing Animal Assisted Therapy; this was also seen in the presence of a friendly dog with the addition of greater use of language (Sams et al., 2006) (53). In a study with adults diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia taking part in dog-assisted therapy it was linked to improvements in social contact and quality of life, however in comparison with the control group the differences weren’t significant (54). Because owning a dog helps you to become more sociable it can help people also with depression because it makes them socialise and talk to people, so the fact that the dog helps you to socialise helps with things like depression.

In conclusion dogs help us a phenomenal amount. Many of these ways we don’t immediately recognise however our dogs do affect. They affect young children even babies, they help them learn and develop essential emotions needed in later life.  They also affect us physically which can include helping us lose weight to reducing our heart rate and blood pressure under stressful conditions. They not only affect young children they can also help and impact older people, like the soothing effect of stroking a dog on arthritis; acting as a companion for people in their later years and help them to socialise more. Psychologically dogs have a major impact on us, we may not realise it but they can help with depression, by affecting how much people socialise and by always being unconditionally loving. Not only this but dog can affect people with Alzheimer’s and match the energy levels of a child with ADHD. Also dogs can soften the most hardened criminals and give them something to live for and help them give back to society by providing dogs that will go on to help blind people one day. Then dogs can affect us in a very obvious way by providing a new lease of life to people with debilitating health defects, so you can get guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, sensor dogs fir smelling cancer and hypoglycaemia. For this you can see how much dogs truly affect us in every way of life.    


1.       pets and health: the impact of companion animals by Diana Casciotti  29/12/15

2.       How animals affect us (book) pg.16 Dolgin, K. G., & Behrend, D. A. (1984). Children’s knowledge about animates and inanimates. Child development, 55, 1646-1650.

3.       How animals affect us (book) pg. 15 Kidd, A. H., & Kidd, R. M. (1987). Reactions of infants and toddlers to live and toy animals. Psychological Reports, 61, 455-464.

4.        LoBue,v. Bloom Pickard, M., Sherman, K., Axford,C., & Deloache, J. (2013). Young children’s interest in live animals British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 31(1), 57-69 DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-835X.2012.02078.x

5.       Geerdts, M., Van de Walle, G., & LoBue, V.(2015). Daily animal exposure and children’s biological concepts Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 130, 132-146 DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2014.10.001

6.       How animals affect us (book) pg. 17 Kosonen, M. (1996). Siblings as providers of support and care during middle child-hood: Children’s perceptions. Children and society, 10, 581-589.

7.       How animals affect us (book) pg. 17 Parker, J. G., & Asher, S. R. (1993). Friendship and friendship quality in middle childhood: Links with peer group acceptance and feelings of loneliness and social distress. Developmental Psychology, 29, 611-621.

8.       how animals affect us (book) pg. 20-21, Melson, G. F., Kahn, P. H. Jr., Beck, A., Friedman, B., Roberts, T., Garrett, E., & Gill, B. (2009). Children’s behaviour towards and understanding of robotic and living dogs. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30, 92-102.

9.        PAWSitive InterAction inaugural educational Summit May 2002, page 7, 5th  paragraph

10.   How animals affect us pg.166.  


12.    How animals affect us pg.170. Havener, L., Gentes, L., Thaler, B., Megel, M. E., Baun, M. M., Driscoll, F. A., . . . Agrawal, S. (2001). The effects of a companion animal on the distress in children undergoing dental procedures. Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing, 24, 137-317.  

13.   McNicholas J, Collis GM (2000). Dogs as catalysts for social interactions: robustness of the effect. Br J Psychol;91:61-70

14.   How animals affect us pg. 140

15.   How Animals affect us pg.141 Australian Government Department of Health and Aging, Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Australian Food and Grocery Council. (2008). Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (2007). Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Author.

16.   Impact on Physical Health: pets and health the impact of companion animals .


19.   PAWSitive InterAction inaugural educational Summit May 2002, pg.5 figure 2 

20.   PAWSitive InterAction inaugural educational Summit May 2002, pg.7-8 quote from Dr. Edward Creagan.

23. . impacts on physical health. .Allen K, Blascovich J, Mendes WB (2002). Cardiovascular reactivity and the presence of pets, friends, and spouses: the truth about cats and dogs. Psychosom Med. Sep-Oct;64(5):727-39.

24. . 12.Simpson A, Custovic A (2003). Early pet exposure: friend or foe? Allergy Clin Immunol. Feb;3(1):7-14.

25.   PAWSitive InterAction inaugural educational Summit May 2002 pg.7 paragraph 5

26.   7.L. G. Kongable, K. C. Buckwalter, and J. M. Stolley, “The effects of pet therapy on the social behavior of institutionalized Alzheimer's clients,” Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 191–198, 1989.

27. in Dogs and Health Benefits for older Adults. 

28. in Dogs and Health Benefits for older Adults. 

29. in Dogs and Health Benefits for older Adults. 

30.   8.N. E. Richeson, “Effects of animal-assisted therapy on agitated behaviors and social interactions of older adults with dementia,” The American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias, vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 353–358, 2003.

31.   E. Friedmann, S. A. Thomas, L. K. Cook, C.-C. Tsai, and S. J. Picot, “A friendly dog as potential moderator of cardiovascular response to speech in older hypertensives,” Anthrozoos, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 51–63, 2007 also  S. B. Barker, J. S. Knisely, N. L. McCain, C. M. Schubert, and A. K. Pandurangi, “Exploratory study of Stress-Buffering response patterns from interaction with a therapy dog,” Anthrozoos, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 79–91, 2010.

32.    Kurrle SE, Day R, Cameron ID. The perils of pet ownership: a new fall-injury risk factor. Med J Aust 2004;181:682--3.

 American Veterinary Medical Association. Socialization and training

38. in dogs and adults with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

39.   PAWSitive InterAction inaugural educational Summit May 2002. Barker SB& Dawson KS, Psychiatric Services, June 1998 49(6), 797-801.

40.   PAWSitive InterAction inaugural educational Summit May 2002 pg.7 quote in the margin.

41.  in the about section of the dog program

43.   How animals affect us pg 53

44.   Amico, J. A., Mantella, R. C., Vollmer, R. R., & Li, X. (2004). Anxiety and stress responses in female oxytocin deficient mice. Jounal of Neutoendocrinology, 16(4), 319-324. And. Uvans-Moberg, K., Ahlenius, S., Hillegaart, V., & Alster, P. (1994). High doses of oxytocin cause sedation and low doses cause an anxiolytic-like effect in male rats. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behaviour, 49(1), 101-106.

45.   Peterson, M., Lunderberg, T., & Uvnas-Moberg, K. (1999). Short-term increase and long-term decrease of blood pressure in response to oxytocin-potentiating effect of female steroid hormones. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 33(1), 102-108.

46.   How animals affect us. pg 53-78

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How animals affect us


Saturday, 21 March 2020

Revision and COVID-19

Hello lovely people, I hope that you are all well in light of the current climate. No matter where you are in the world I am sure you have all been affect in some way by COVID-19. I want to wish you all the best from the UK, we are currently on lockdown all restaurants, pubs, cafes, cinemas, gyms, schools and leisure centres have been shut down, it is a crazy world we are living in the government have just released today that people really need to stop bulk buying as we have enough food and enough food in the supply chain. It is so horrid to see that some of the more vulnerable are going without the food they need from day to day. I am lucky enough to be able to help out and work at my mums doctors practice next week in order to try and alleviate some of the pressure on the practice. I hope you are all staying safe are listening to your governments guidelines to help protect everyone from this virus.

Some more on my revision, as of yet the Veterinary students at Bristol University don't know what will be happening their exams and assessments for the rest of the year. Hence I am revising and just waiting to here what is happening. It is frustrating that we don't know what is happening with the rest of our teaching for the year and whats going on with our exams but everyone on my cohort is in the same boat and we all just have to get on with revising the parts of the course that we have been taught and going with that.

This year I am trying a few different revision techniques, even though we are having an extended Easter holiday (5 weeks) I am working for 3 of those weeks, 2 of them will be in lambing which I technically don't have to go to however I believe that it would be very rude and unfair of me to not go and do the work that I have agreed to do for the Shepard. As I am working quite a bit I am having to be very organised and efficient with my revision. This year I have noted that I have struggled with retaining the amount of information that we are being taught especially in Animal Disease and in Neurology. Many people have suggested the easiest way to learn these units is to wrote learn them however this has never worked for me, I find it very difficult to bulk learn information I just can't retain that much in my brain at once so I am trying some new methods and here they are.

  1.  Writing my own questions and answers; I am doing this for some of my Animal Disease unit, I know that this is like wrote learning, however I am doing it because it will allow me to get my friends and family to test me and it will allow me to test myself easily and in a slightly different way to quizlet and the more conventional flashcards. 
  2.  I am making voice notes; I did this a little last year however this year I am trying to utilise it more efficiently and effectively and making sure that the voice notes are concise and that they make sense to me when I am listening back to them. 
  3.  Using 3D anatomy website; So I have found that this year that the website VIN has been super useful for my anatomy learning and animal management learning. I find it so much easier when I am able to see what I am learning about. 
  4.  Posters; Now I have always done this but this year rather than just writing everything onto a poster I want to try and plan them and make them contain enough information but be concise at the same time. So that hopefully I will be able to recap topics and remind myself of the necessary information quickly and simply when revising for my exams that may or may not be happening. 
These are the methods I am using at the moment, now I know that I haven't perfected the method that is best for me to revise either that or I'm just dumb.... (laughing emoji), I would love to hear the different ways that you are revising and what you find works best for you. I hope that you have all enjoyed reading this and I'll probably do a post about my lambing experience this year. Stay safe, wash your hands, and try keep the self distancing/ isolation this going. 

Sunday, 9 February 2020

University and Mental health

Hello lovely people, I know I've been really bad on posting here since starting university, I've been thinking about this recently and I think I've come up with a reason as to why I just haven't been finding the time to write on here.

At university my days are very uniform, I wake up often perpetually tired, I go to the gym and I then head straight into uni to start lectures or practical's. This year though we have the same contact hours as last year the content itself is rather more difficult as I personally find some of it quite dry and very tricky to learn. After lectures I go to the library or I go home to write up the lectures. In the gaps of the day I find time to eat. Now to me reading that back I am probably the worlds most boring person I don't really go out ever and I just live in my routine. I figure that people won't want to read about that, they don't want to read about a boring life of a struggling university student.

I would love to write posts about the things that we are learning and give you tips on how to learn and get through university but the truth is I'm still figuring all of this out. The content we get taught I spend time writing up and trying to understand however I don't feel like I could write a post about the content because I'm not going to lie but at the moment none of it is really motivating me and inspiring me to write. I don't feel like I am in the right place to be giving tips about how to study because though I passed all of my January exams, truth be told I making everything up as I go along.

University is hard, no one ever said it was going to be easy, my mental health sometimes spirals and then I'll have a good few days and something can trigger a spiral again. I just want everyone to know that there are other people going through this, you're not alone. I am currently consciously trying to work very hard on my mental health and my self worth. Self worth is something I have struggled with for a while, I can't tell you why because I myself don't know but I realise that I do try to always make others happy and ensure that others are happy even if it doesn't make me happy. I do sometimes make stands for myself like if I don't want to go out no one is going to make me go out, yes this makes me feel bad about myself because I'm letting people down however I have come to realise that often after nights out that's when I go into a really dark hole mentally so more often than not I try to avoid that from happening. I have definitely been treating myself more this year and about certain things I've been a lot more relaxed this year which I do really think has helped. There is still a very long way to go before I feel a good sense of self worth and before I feel like I am enough and I deserve certain thing, I'm working on it. I just want you reading this to know that if you are going through a period like this then that's okay, go speak to someone, talk to a friend or write it in a journal. I have recently downloaded the app 29k which I'm trying out, it's completely free and it is a load of courses and lessons about anxiety, self-confidence and wellbeing. I will try and keep updated on here as to how that's going.

A promise I am making to myself here, as cheesy as it sounds is to tell myself that I am worthy of friendship and love. In the past in friendships I have tried to just make sure the other person is happy and if they have done something that upsets be I have stayed quiet because who am I to say anything. But now I want to start taking a stand and telling people how I really feel, and I figure the true friends will listen and care about me and the people who aren't true well they can get out of my life for all I care. That sounds harsh and I know it will take a lot for me to say to someone something that they've done that makes me upset but it has to be done because I don't want to spend my life solely helping others and carry others burdens around and thinking that they shouldn't ever have to hear my burdens or my troubles.

Sorry this blog took rather a depressing turn, as you know I am always truthful on here about everything I think and feel. I will try to write on here before the end of the month. I hope you are all having a good 2020 and just remember to keep smiling and everything will be alright in the end.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Christmas Time

Hi lovely people, I hope that you are all well and are starting to feel festive on the lead up to Christmas. I know that since starting university this year my show on the blog has been abysmal, yes this has not been my priority this term. I have been concentrating on me and giving myself down time when my body needs it, I've been staying on top of work and just getting through the term because let me tell you the amount of content manages to blow my mind daily.

Over the Christmas holiday I will be trying to do 2 posts on here. I can't say what they will be on, lets just say I'm experiencing a bit of a writers block at the moment. My life isn't interesting as every day is the same I wake up early, go to the gym, go to uni, get work done, eat at some point and then sleep. Also because of how full on this term has been my head is constantly whirling with everything that we have been taught and are meant to know. I know it's a bad excuse.

I hope that you all have an amazing Christmas break and I will speak to you all soon. Remember to smile because you never know it could make someones day.   

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Personalised Drugs

Hello beautiful people, I hope you are all doing well. I know its been a long time since I put anything up on this page, turns out second year at vet school is quite tricky and overwhelming so I've been taking each day as it comes and trying not to get too stressed, at the end of the day my mental health will always come first. I hope you are having a lovely week and I just thought I'd pop on here to talk about some things we've learnt in lectures recently which I found super interesting as I did do a post on this topic a while ago called designer drugs I believe. So here goes I'm going to explain the basics behind the drugs and hopefully some of you will be able to follow along.

So T-cells make up a big part of our immune system. At school you may have been taught about T-killer cells which we call CD8+ t-cells and then you get T-helper cells which we call CD4+. this CD business is basically a protein on the T-cells that helps to determine its character and what cells it binds to. The cells T-cells bind to have MHC proteins on them which stands for Major Histocompatibility Complex. There are two classes of these MHCI and MHCII, it is these that the t-cell receptor site recognises during an immune reaction. CD8+ binds with MHCI which is found on any nucleated cell and CD4+ binds with MHCII which is found on antigen presenting cells (note that these can also be nucleated cells).
The genes to make MHC are linked and very complex on one specific chromosome in DNA. The location differs between species. These genes also encode for antigen presentation and processing.  Some of the reasons MCH are so good is because they’re polygenic and contain several different copies of MHCI and MHCII, they’re also polymorphic so many alleles of each gene in the population so greater combinations. Each individual express diff number of MHC antigens, the specific set of MHC expressed is called “tissue type” this is used when finding matches for organ transplantation. When looking at the genetics of MHC, a haplotype is taken from each mother and father and this makes a new combination, these combinations are much like the mendelian cross squares. This makes it very rare to have a tissue type match which is why graft rejection is still such a major issue. 
Only mature t-cells express a t-cell receptor with the CD 4 or 8 protein. The recognition of peptide-MHC involves both co-receptors, the TCR and CD bind to different sites on the MHC molecule so 1 MHC to both receptors, the TCR has pMHC recognition and CD4/8 enhances sensitivity. This binding isn’t dependent on a peptide being present as CD8/4 will bind without it and hence accelerate the TCR interaction with the peptide, the joining of CD8 isn’t enough to activate the t-cells are overcome the activation threshold just lower it, as MHCI doesn’t have a high enough affinity to the CD8. Once a T-cell has bound the two receptors onto the MHC then signals start to cascade which causes cytokines to be released which effectively kill the harmful pathogen in the body. 

The different type of T-helper cells. TH1 activates macrophages to kill intracell organisms and stimulated CD8 t-cells. TH2, helps B-cells differentiate to plasma cells to secrete Ab’s (antibodies). TH17 recruits’ neutrophils to infection sites. Remember CD4 are T-helper cells. The immune response can be polarized towards Th1 or Th2 which is called immune deviation. Each are mutually antagonistic and depend on the CD4 which is triggered. Th1 cells produce IFN (interferon) gamma which inhibits Th2 (cytotoxic cell mediated immunity. Th2 cells make IL-4 and IL-13 which inhibit Th1 cells this is humoral immunity (soluble antibody immunity). Incorrect deviation is thought to contribute to pathology e.g. a dog with leishmaniosis requires a strong Th1 polarization in order to control this protozoal infection. Failure leads to chronic multisystemic disease and death. 

All CD4 t-cells arise from common precursor, the wat antigen interacts with APCs determines cytokine prod by APCs. It is a variation of 3 signals that causes different effector functions of CD4 t-cells. 
Okay so there is some of the science, now I'm going to try and explain.When presented with an antigen initially you get natural antigens then you get in day 2-7 the T-independent antibody and finally 5-12 day you get the T-dependent antibody, this is the adaptive immune response and is slower to get going. As antigen conc decrease and the immune response matures and there is more of a selection for high affinity BCR (b-cell receptor) compared to low affinity BCRs. So only responses with high affinity BCRs have a response that persists.  
Monoclonal antibodies can be used for allergy test, therapeutic monoclonals like the treatment of cancer or blocking a viral infection. Monoclonal antibodies are made by injecting a mouse with an antigen, the mouse responds to numerous determinants and activates B-cells of the different epitopes. The spleen is then removed from the mouse, which contains some antigen-specific B-cells and not antigen-specific. They then get the myeloma (plasma cell) cell line ‘immortal’ as neoplastic so they will grow continuously in cell culture.  Then the spleen B-cells are mixed with the myeloma cells, PEG is added which causes cell fusion and the fusion allows the exchange of nuclear material to create immortal plasma cells that produce antibodies these cells are called hybridomas. HAT is then added which unfuses B-cells and they die along with any unbound myeloma cells. These are dilutes into single cell pots, then cloning happens and you get pots of monoclonal cells, these can be harvested but they’re mouse antibodies so have to be humanized or caninized.
There is also Adoptive T-cell therapy, which is a treatment used to help the immune system combat diseases like cancer and infections via viruses. T-cells are collected from a patient and grown in the lab. this increases the number of T-cells that are able to kill cancer cells or fight infections. there T-cells are given back to the patient to help the immune system fight disease. It is also called tumour infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, when injected into the tumour the t-cells help the body attack the diseased cells and has been described to 'melt' the tumour.
There is also a chance to develop T-cells that express cancer specific TCRs, which seems amazing, being able to produce a large amount of CD8 t-cells in a very short amount of time and increase the affinity of the TCR to the cancer cells, however in reality it is very tricky to identify a suitable MHCI restricted tumour rejection antigen, and to isolate tumour specific TCR.
There has been a huge breakthrough in checkpoint inhibitors. the T-cells within the immunosuppressive tumour microenvironment express many Co-inhibitory receptors these deliver a negative signal to the t-cells which prevents them from activating and destroying cancer cells, so monoclonal antibodies that block the inhibitory receptors have been developed and are being used to treat humans with metastatic melanomas. 

I hope you enjoyed that and you managed to follow along at least just a little bit. I am slowly getting into the swing of university and sports, I've decided to swim 2 times a week and gym 5 times a week plus sometimes trying to incorporate some gym classes. It's all a work in progress at the beginning of university this term I did really struggle with my mental health but I'm now focussing on the small positives each day. I hope you all continue to have an amazing week and just remember to smile because you never know it could make someone's day. I will post when I next feel like it, see you then!