They’re cute, they’re entertaining, and they’re always there for us when we need them – and now scientists in the US have figured out yet another health benefit of having a pet dog.
According to research published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, a team of experts from the University of Oklahoma have found that kids with pet dogs are significantly less likely to develop childhood anxiety.
The team conducted an 18-month long test during which they analysed almost 650 children. Parents provided details of their children’s physical and mental health, their body mass index, their screen-time and whether or not they had the four-legged pet.
Taking into account that a parent’s mental health can impact that of their child, the researchers found that a staggering 21% of kids without a pet dog met the clinical threshold reserved for anxiety screening. This statistic was presented in contrast with 12% of those children who did own dogs.
Commenting on the significance of the research, the study’s lead author said: “Pet dogs could reduce childhood anxiety, particularly social and separation anxiety, by various mechanisms.”
Among those mechanisms listed were how dogs stimulate conversation for little ones when they enter the wider world.
“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,” the team added.
And with that, we will leave you with this image…