Do Pets Really Boost Kids' Health?

Do Pets Really Boost Kids' Health?

Kids and pets go together like peanut butter and jelly, right?

Mental Health Does Not Come With A Manual, It Comes With Friends & Family Support That Never Gives Up!
Join now

Maybe not, a new study contends.

The research finding, called the largest of its kind, challenges the common belief that having a dog or cat in the home can benefit children's mental and physical health.

RAND Corp. researchers looked at data from thousands of children in pet-owning and pet-free homes in California. They considered more than 100 variables in adjusting their model of pet ownership and health.

"We could not find evidence that children from families with dogs or cats are better off either in terms of their mental well-being or their physical health," study co-author Layla Parast, a statistician at RAND, said in a news release from the nonprofit research organization.

"Everyone on the research team was surprised -- we all have or grew up with dogs and cats. We had essentially assumed from our own personal experiences that there was a connection," Parast said.

The researchers did find that children from homes with pets tended to have better general health and were more likely to be physically active, compared to those in no-pet households.

But when the researchers adjusted the findings for other variables, the association between pet ownership and better health disappeared.

It turns out that many of the health benefits attributed to owning a pet may more likely be attributed to living in a more affluent neighborhood or coming from a family with a higher income, the study authors said.

To really know whether there are any health benefits to pet ownership would require following people who were randomly given a pet -- or not -- for 10 to 15 years, according to Parast.

The Internet's Most Trusted Source For Mental Health Information
Sign up

"Such a study would likely be too costly and/or infeasible to implement, and I'm afraid it's not likely to be funded by anybody," she said.

The research was published online recently in the journal Anthrozoos.

More information

The ASPCA offers tips for choosing a pet.


Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Related Content

What If Your Anxiety & Depression Is Really A Sign Of ADHD?
What If Your Anxiety & Depression Is Really A Sign Of ADHD?

More often than not, when a person over the age of 10 is diagnosed with attentio...

Read more
New Patent By OxyContin Maker May Treat Pain But Comes With Addictive Potential
New Patent By OxyContin Maker May Treat Pain But Comes With Addictive Potential

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has received a patent designed to treat o...

Read more
Why Are Transgenders Experiencing More Mental Health Issues Than The General Public?
Why Are Transgenders Experiencing More Mental Health Issues Than The General Public?

Individuals who identify as transgender tend to experience higher rates of menta...

Read more
New Research In Schizophrenia Shows That A Video Game Can Aid In Preventing Hallucinations
New Research In Schizophrenia Shows That A Video Game Can Aid In Preventing Hallucinations

People with schizophrenia can be trained by playing a video game to control the ...

Read more
I was 12 When I Survived 9-11 But My Peers & I Are Only Now Realizing Our PTSD
I was 12 When I Survived 9-11 But My Peers & I Are Only Now Realizing Our PTSD

As the Twin Towers burned and eventually collapsed on 9/11, I was running from m...

Read more
How Running Helped These Everyday People Beat OCD, Depression & Anxiety
How Running Helped These Everyday People Beat OCD, Depression & Anxiety

When documentary photographer Martin Eberlen was diagnosed with ADHD in his earl...

Read more