Children who have a dog in their home are less likely to have anxiety, according to a new study published Nov. 25 in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.
The study measured the health of 643 children, between the ages of 4 and 10, during an 18-month period through a pediatric primary care facility. Before their appointments, the childrens' parents answered a number of questions to evaluate mental and physical health through a web-based health risk screener called DartScreen. Fifty-eight percent of the children in the study had a pet dog at home.
The researchers found that only 12 percent of children with a dog at home had a high score for anxiety compared to the 21 percent of children without dogs who showed a high score. Also, the average score for anxiety was lower overall with kids who had a dog at home.
This new finding just adds on to the growing list of ways that dogs can help humans. Another recent study shows that children with dogs have a lower risk of developing asthma and it's well known that dogs can help humans release oxytocin, the "feel-good" hormone.