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Having A Pet Dog Might Help Prevent Anxiety Disorders In Children

A new study suggests that having a pet dog might lower kids' chances of experiencing childhood anxiety disorders.
Posted at 1:58 PM, Nov 26, 2015

Parents, take note: A new study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease says kids with pet dogs could be less likely to experience childhood anxiety.  

Scientists already knew owning a dog could give a boost to mental health conditions in adults. But little research has been done with regard to children.

The researchers at New York's Bassett Medical Center studied 643 kids — 370 of them had pet dogs, and 273 didn't.

They found only 12 percent of the children with dogs at home showed signs of childhood anxiety. For those without dogs, it was 21 percent. 

Study author Anne M. Gadomski suggested that interactions with dogs could cause the release of a hormone called oxytocin. Among other things, oxytocin can help lower physical responses to stress

The scientists noted that their findings don't establish a causal relationship

Anxiety disorders affect 1 in 8 children. So the researchers hope this study can be a jumping off point for future studies into helpful childhood therapies. (Video via Seattle Children's Hospital)

This video includes images from Getty Images, Rob Bixby / CC BY 2.0 and Terrah / CC BY ND 2.0.