Keeping dogs as pets is one way to reduce anxiety in children, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Carried out by research teams from Basset Medical Center in New York, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Dartmouth Medical School, the study was done on children aged 6 and 7 and indicates that children with dogs at home were less likely to have anxiety than those without.
The research was carried out over 18 months on 643 children and demonstrates a correlation between clinical anxiety in children and the presence of dogs in the home. It shows an almost 10 percent disparity in anxiety rates of children with and without pets, according to The Huffington Post reported. Just 12 percent of children with dogs as pets met the threshold requirements for anxiety, as opposed to 21 percent of children without dogs.
The researchers claim that keeping a pet could be useful in reducing anxiety, stating in their findings that "companionship with a pet can alleviate separation anxiety and strengthen attachment," but that there was not enough evidence to make a clear conclusion on the matter. "From a mental health standpoint, children aged seven to eight often ranked pets higher than humans as providers of comfort and self-esteem and as confidants," the researchers wrote in the study, adding that it doesn't answer whether dogs themselves have a positive impact on mental health or whether it was "other factors associated with acquisition of a pet dog."
"There is a very strong bond between children and their pets," Dr. Anna Gadomski, one of the researchers involved in the study, told NBC News. Dogs have always been utilized as service animals, but recent years are seeing their use expand to many different tasks. They have already been found to reduce rates of allergies and asthma, and use of therapy dogs to treat conditions such as PTSD is on the incline.