Dogs prevent anxiety in kids, says study

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

A new study shows that kids who have dogs as pets are less anxious, the daily beast reports.

The study titled Pet Dogs and Children's Health: Opportunities for Chronic Disease Prevention was released on Wednesday.

For the study, scientists from New York's Bassett Medical Center studied 643 children above 18 months old, with an average age of 6.7 years, to register the anxiety levels of kids with and without dogs.

The results showed that of the 58 percent of the group who had dogs at home, just 12 percent tested positive on a screening test for anxiety. In the other group, 21 percent of the kids tested positive for anxiety.

Even though the study did not a causal relationship between the two, the researchers suggest that more research on the subject was warranted.

"This is more about anxiety symptoms and trying to look at ways of preventing child obesity and childhood mental illness," Anne M. Gadomski, a researcher at the Bassett Medical Center and 30-year veteran of pediatrics said.

 "It's giving us a direction for future studies," she said.

"Interacting with a friendly dog also reduces cortisol levels, most likely through oxytocin release, which lessens physiologic responses to stress," the researchers suggested.

"These hormonal effects may underlie the observed emotional and behavioral benefits of animal-assisted therapy and pet dogs."

Gadomski said that further research is needed that she hopes will continue.

"You have to give kids the best tools," she says. "I don't want people running out to buy a dog, but there could be important effects we're missing-and anything we can do to prevent these illnesses should be explored."

According to NBC News, Gadomski also noted her team looked at dogs because there's so much research about them.

"It doesn't mean that cats can't do the same thing," she said. 

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