New research studies, supported by funding from Mars and Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition, focus on how interactions with animals positively affect people's physical, mental and social well-being.

The studies focus on three areas: the impact of equine-based programs on early teens' social skills, how structured interactions with dogs impacts people with dementia, and the effect of pet ownership on social relationships and community connectedness.

The new research will be presented at the triennial meeting of the international Association of Human Animal Interaction Organizations, in partnership with the annual American Veterinary Medical Association meeting, taking place July 19-23 in Chicago, Illinois, USA.