Pets may help reduce anxiety risk in children: Study

Pets may help reduce anxiety risk in children: Study

Pets are the best companions one could ever get in life. They are fun, innocent and most importantly, they do not judge others around them. However, time and again concerns have been raised regarding the hygiene quotient due to the presence of pets at home and that germs and probable diseases spread through them. But there can be a sense of relief to pets’ lovers as a study revealed that presence of pets can significantly reduce the risk of anxiety in children.

According to the study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), titled, “Pet Dogs and Children’s Health: Opportunities for Chronic Disease Prevention?”, the risk of development of anxiety reduces in children who grow up with pets at home as compared to kids who do not have pets. The study suggested that pets could substantially reduce the risk of social and separation anxiety in children.

It is a well-established fact that having pets such as dogs results in the increase of physical activities and helps adults maintain body weight and mental health. Additionally, some studies have also linked pets with reduced risk of overweight or obesity in children.

Children with pets may have lower anxiety than those without pets

The CDC researchers observed 643 children of age between 4-10 years at a pediatric primary care setting over a period of 18 months and their parents were enquired around the parameters such as their kids’ body mass index (BMI), physical activity, screen time, mental health and pet-related questions.

While the study did not find any difference in any of the parameters between the kids with and without dogs, the researchers noticed a striking difference between the levels of anxiety in both the groups, when they had undergone the standardized screening test called the Screen for Child Anxiety and Related Disorders (SCARED). They found that the SCARED score was lower in children with dogs, as compared to those without dogs.

The study further concluded that presence of a pet dog helped in reducing the risk of developing anxiety in children through various mechanisms. “A pet dog can stimulate conversation – an ice-breaking effect that can alleviate social anxiety via a social catalyst effect. Companionship with a pet can alleviate separation anxiety and strengthen attachment,” the study added.

The researchers also found that the interaction of humans with dogs could also increase the level of oxytocin – the hormone that aid social bonding and reduce anxiety, and reduce the level of cortisol – the stress hormone which as a result could reduce physiologic responses to stress.

Anxiety in children can be chronic

Health issues such as obesity or anxiety tend to develop during childhood and grow with time. While obesity could result from lack of physical exercises or a laidback lifestyle, anxiety could develop from various internal and external factors. Anxiety in children can be chronic and may pose hindrance in the proper development of their mind and body.

Anxiety is a severe mental disorder that requires proper medical intervention for complete cure and treatment. If you or your loved one is showing symptoms of anxiety, seek medical help from one of the anxiety treatment centers in California. You can contact the Anxiety Treatment Centers of California to know about the best curative interventions to treat anxiety. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline at 855-972-9459 or chat online with one of our mental health specialists who can recommend you the best anxiety disorders treatment in California and provide you information on the reputed anxiety disorders treatment centers in California.

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