Studies Show Pet Dogs Can Help Reduce the Risk of Childhood Anxiety

Nov 26, 2015 08:16 PM EST | By Pao Uychiat

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Pets are the members of the family that gives us unconditional love without asking for anything in return. They would anxiously stay in the house and wait for every member of the family to come home. Even if they can't directly talk to us using words, they can sense our feelings, may it be happy or sad.

But they are more helpful in our lives more than we think. An article in CBC said that a U.S. study said that children living with a pet dog have a lower risk of suffering from anxiety.

There are some studies on adults and their connection to their pet dogs, suggesting that having animals as companions is linked to better health like improved physical activity and mental health. However, there is just a small amount of information about the possible connection between children's health and their pet dogs.

Child playing with pet
(Photo : Getty Images)

To start the study, the researchers enrolled about 643 children aging 7 years old in a pediatric primary care clinic when they came in for their annual medical check -ups. There were about 58 percent of the children have dogs at home. Among them, 12 percent of them were tested positive for potential anxiety, as compared to 21 percent of the children who doesn't have a pet dog.

Among the 58 per cent of children with a dog in the home, 12 per cent tested positive on a screening test for potential anxiety, compared with 21 per cent of children who did not have a pet dog. Dr. Anne Gadomski of the Bassett Medical Center and her co-authors wrote in Wednesday's issue of Preventing Chronic Disease that having a pet dog at home decreases the probability of childhood anxiety. Of course future studies need to establish this theory about the relationship between the two. It needs to be proven how pet dogs alleviate childhood anxiety.

People are still anxious to know as to how the connection happens and how a less anxious child does get attracted to the dog or is it the dog doing the trick to relieve anxiety. The researchers suggested some ways that these fluffy members of the family could help reduce anxiety. To alleviate social anxiety, they said to have a stimulating conversation. In order to promote self-esteem and alleviate separation anxiety, they recommended companionship. In the study, the children with pet dogs and those without didn't differ in BMI and physical activity.

Veterinarians have cautioned pets can be a source of disease-causing bacteria, especially to young children, pregnant women, seniors and those with weak immune systems.

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