The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of the presence of a companion animal on physiological arousal and behavioral distress exhibited by preschool children during a routine physical examination. A within-subject, time-series design was used to study 23 healthy children ages 3 years to 6 years during two physical examinations, with and without a dog. Statistically significant differences were found with greater reductions in subjects' systolic and mean arterial pressure, heart rate, and behavioral distress when the dog was present. Findings support the use of a companion animal in reducing stress experienced by children during a physical examination.
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