Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is investigating the benefits of animal therapy with the help of the American Humane Association.
The pair have both been advocates of boosting child welfare with the help of dogs and have embarked on an in-depth clinical research study of the pros and cons of animal-assisted therapy for cancer patients and their families.
Michael McFarland, group director of veterinary operations at US Pfizer Animal Health, said the company had conducted a literature review to inform the research plan for the remainder of the effectiveness study, which is expected to span several years.
He added that the research will "provide a resource to help understand the current status of human-animal interaction research within this domain".
The study, entitled Canines and Childhood Cancer: Examining the Effects of Therapy Dogs with Childhood Cancer Patients and Their Families, was launched in 2010 and will include a multi-site clinical trial lasting between 12 and 18 months.
Pfizer has already found that there is no standard method of administering and monitoring animal-assisted therapy.