Science Proves Dogs Reduce Anxiety In Kids
In a recent study, scientists set out to discover if having a dog as a pet can aid in preventing obesity in children. While the results of that particular study were inconclusive, the researchers made a different, albeit equally interesting discovery: kids that grow up with a dog or get a dog at a young age experience less anxiety and stress than those who have never had a dog.
Although this seems pretty obvious to anyone who’s ever owned a pooch, it’s a rather significant discovery because now we have scientific evidence to back it up. The researchers at Bassett Medical Center in New York observed 643 children of different ages (specifically, from the age of 4 to the age of 10) and discovered that among the 58% of children that had a dog at home, only 12% tested positive on a test for anxiety, compared with 21% of those who didn’t have a dog.
Scientists explained how all of this works from a chemical point of view. Apparently, interacting with a friendly dog can reduce cortisol levels through the release of oxytocin, which lessens physiologic response to stress. In other words, having a dog affects our hormones in a way that makes us relax and respond better to different kinds of stressful situations.
The study also points out that this is not limited to dogs. In general, pet owners display lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression than non-pet owners. When speaking of obesity, dog owners tend to get more exercise than those people who don’t own a dog. Pet owners often have better indicators of cardiovascular health (which translates into a lower risk of heart disease), and 29 percent of smokers have said that they would quit smoking if second-hand smoke could be a risk to their pet’s health.
To summarize, it’s inconclusive whether having a dog can affect obesity in kids, but there are numerous other health benefits of owning a pooch, such as reduced levels of stress in both you and your children, getting more exercise and being at a lower risk of heart disease due to better cardiovascular health. So, if you don’t have a dog already, we hope that this little piece of info will motivate you to adopt a pooch.