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Dogs and the Placebo Effect


On a hunch, I had her red-and-rust son’s blood tested and found that it was compatible. I communed with her, telling her that this would be the last transfusion; I also promised to discontinue other treatments and stay close by, enveloping her in love. One year later, with no further intervention, Wendy still warms my side. The veterinary school clinicians are in disbelief. There is truly no medical explanation.

That’s all right. I’ll take Ariel, Wendy and the placebo effect any day.

McMillan, Franklin D. “The placebo effect in animals.” J Am Vet Med Assoc 1999; 215, No. 7:992–999.

McMillan, Franklin D. “Effects of human contact on animal health and well-being.” J Am Vet Med Assoc 1999; 215, No. 11:1592–1598.




Kathy Davieds, DVM has been a small-animal veterinarian for 25 years. Active in therapy-dog work, rescue and other canine endeavors, she is also founder of the Virginia Partnership for Animal Welfare and Support (vapaws.org). She is currently owned by several uncropped Dobes.

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