Want to convince yourself getting a pet dog is a good idea? Well, this new research might make you finally agree to that new puppy! It turns out that children who have a dog are less likely to suffer mental health issues.
Growing Up With Dogs Makes You Less Likely To Suffer Mental Health Issues
My 8-year-old son has been asking for a puppy for years! We live in an apartment and our building does not allow any pets, so right now it is really not an option. But we are thinking about moving to a house soon, and I know my son will really want a puppy by then.
Should we get a dog? I have been thinking about this for a while now.
So, I started doing some research about the pros and cons of having a dog. And it turns out that a dog can bring health benefits to the whole family! Of course, it goes without saying, that having a dog means a lot of work and responsibility. But I also think it is part of everyone’s childhood and we all need to experience having a pet at home. Additionally, I think having a dog can also teach kids to start being responsible by taking care of a new member of the family.
Children Growing Up With Dogs Are Less Likely To Experience Anxiety
Children who have a dog to cuddle up with at night, talk to, and play with every day are less likely to suffer from anxiety, a new study published in the Journal Preventing Chronic Disease suggests.
Researchers from Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, New York, set out to find out if having a four-legged friend in the house could do more for your kids than just be a furry playmate. And the study showed kids who live in a home with a pet dog scored far lower on clinical measures of anxiety.
About the study
To do so, the researchers asked parents of children ages 4 to 10 who came in for well-child visits to answer a questionnaire about health related topics, among them pets in the home, before the checkup.
The researchers formed two study groups based on the answers, one with children who had a pet dog at home and the other with kids who did not have pet dogs.”We studied children with dogs because that was the most common pet and allowed us to collect a large sample of children,” research scientist and study author, Dr. Anne Gadomski, explains to CBS News.
The study included 370 kids with dogs and 273 kids who didn’t have one. Among the 58 percent of children with a dog, 12 percent tested positive on a screening test for anxiety, compared with 21 percent of children who did not have a pet dog.
Children growing up with dogs suffer less anxiety
“What we actually found was children from homes with pet dogs had lower anxiety scores than children in homes with no pet dog,” says Gadomski.
And while she acknowledges that further studies are needed to determine cause and effect, Gadomski, who is a dog owner herself, said she finds it very interesting looking at pets and childhood mental health from a preventive health angle.
“Childhood anxiety is a huge mental health problem in the U.S. and anything we can do to mitigate anxiety or prevent its development would have a huge impact on the mental health system in the United States.”
As to why having a dog is beneficial to children’s health, Gadomski explains: “Interacting with a friendly dog also reduces cortisol levels, most likely through oxytocin release, which lessens physiologic responses to stress. These hormonal effects may underlie the observed emotional and behavioral benefits of animal-assisted therapy and pet dogs.”
Advocates of animal-assisted therapy say that developing a bond with an animal can help people develop a better sense of self-worth and trust, stabilize their emotions, and improve their communication, self-regulation, and socialization skills.
Children who grow up with dogs will experience all these wonderful benefits. A pet dog can become your child’s best companion, and a major source of comfort and psychological support. Basically, having a dog is like having your very own best friend and therapist, all rolled up in one furry package.