Growing up with a pet could improve a child’s life
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Pets have been in the center of attention for multiple studies, including one that claims getting your kid a dog might lower their anxiety. It seems there are numerous debates on the issue, though more in the favor of children with pets. The companionship and the bonding could prove crucial in their development.
Researchers at Dartmouth University, the University of Oklahoma, and the Bassett Medical Center in New York, conducted a study searching the link between mental health of young children and pet ownership. They surveyed the parents 643 children between the ages of 6 and 7 years old, with the average age of 6.7. Both the parents and the children were screened for both physical and mental health problems, along with pet status.
The team of researchers found that among the 58% who had a pet dog in the family, only 12% of them had childhood anxiety issues. On the other hand, those without a pet had rates of the same disorder at 21%, which drove their conclusions to a possible link. It has been suggested many times that there are numerous benefits from growing up with a dog.
It has been previously implied that they improve with problems of loneliness, boosting the mood of their owners, or could even aid in decreasing the chances of developing asthma. Not to mention they’re adorable companions that could help with the relationship between the child and their parents. The study has shown that bonding over the love for their pet could be highly beneficial.
According to one of the researchers and a pediatrician, Anne M. Gadomski, their study was aimed at measuring anxiety levels, and the possibility of preventing childhood obesity or mental health illness. These could carry on into their teenage years, then further into adulthood, which would cripple their lifestyle and damage their health.
The researchers have shown that interacting with a dog in a friendly manner will release the bonding hormone, oxytocin. This will also reduce cortisol levels, which lessens the effects of stress. These beneficial consequences could “underline the observed emotional and behavioral benefits of animal-assisted therapy”. And, subsequently, of owning pets.
The link formed within the study was forged after taking into consideration other factors, such as economic status. However, researchers admitted that they could not find a definitive answer on whether children are less anxious because they have pets, or those who are less anxious are given pets.
According to Dr. Gasomski though, their findings do suggest the need for further research into the matter. Anything that could prevent mental health problems in children should be better understood and used, if the effects are proven.
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