Children with pet dogs less likely to have anxiety
Scientists at the University of Oklahoma have found that pet dogs significantly reduce a child’s chance of developing childhood anxiety.
The research, which was posted in the journal ‘Preventing Chronic Disease’, analysed almost 650 children by asking their parents to provide details of their children’s physical and mental health, their body mass index, their screen-time and whether the family owned a pet dog or not.
Taking into consideration that a parent’s mental health can have an impact on their children, research found that BMI, physical activity or screen time did not have differing results among children with or without pet dogs, but did find that 21% of children who didn’t have a pet dog met the clinical threshold reserved for anxiety screening, compared to a much lesser 12% who met the threshold who did have a dog.
The study’s author said of the research: “Pet dogs could reduce childhood anxiety, particularly social and separation anxiety, by various mechanisms.”
The authors also wrote that dogs have a great impact on stimulating conversation in children, reducing the chance of them suffering with social anxiety later, adding:
“If exposure to pet dogs during childhood is inversely related to mental health problems, positive child-dog interactions could prevent the evolution of these problems into full-fledged disorders during adolescence or later life.”