If your child is asking for a dog this season, they now have the Centers for Disease Control in their side. On November 25th the CDC submitted a news release promoting the benefits of dog ownership during childhood!
What Does the Research Say?
We already know from the research, and from independent reports, that pets can reduce blood pressure and relieve anxiety in adults. New research demonstrates that pets benefit children in the same ways.
In addition, dog ownership in childhood can reduce anxiety. According to the study cited below,
“…children who have a pet dog in the home have a lower anxiety screening score than children who do not.” The researchers attribute this benefit to a variety of causes:
- Dogs are great ice breakers and can help ease the stress of conversation
- Dogs help relieve separation anxiety in children
- Interaction with the pet dog releases the brain chemical oxytocin, which is related to bonding and a sense of well-being in both the animal and the human
In addition “children aged 7 to 8 often ranked pets higher than humans as providers of comfort and self-esteem and as confidants.”
Pet ownership develops important skills, such as responsibility and caring for another living being. Walking and playing with a dog is a great form of exercise.
It’s a Public Service Too!
Did you know that approximately 3.9 million dogs enter shelters in the United States every year!? Many of these dogs are surrendered because families move, or have other logistical issues preventing continued pet ownership, and not because there is anything wrong with the pet.
Shelters also take in pregnant dogs, and puppies are often available. If you are considering adding a dog to the family this year, check with your local shelter first!
Pet dogs and children’s health: opportunities for chronic disease prevention?, Anne M. Gadomski et al., CDC, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd12.150204, published 25 November 2015.