4 ways dogs can help make your kids healthier

If you need another reason to give in to those puppy-dog eyes, pet ownership might just improve your family’s health.

Research shows children raised with a pet pooch may be healthier – mentally and physically.

1.  Dogs may help reduce childhood anxiety

A lot can be said about a dog’s ability to relieve stress and make us feel happier. Dogs can be great companions and with the wag of a tail they can help turn a frown upside-down.

A recent study by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found having a pet dog may help to  reduce the risk of childhood anxiety. The incidence of stress and anxiety among children surveyed with dogs at home was almost half that of those without a dog.
 
The research suggests playing with a pooch can release a hormone in our brain (oxytocin), which helps to reduce stress and aids social bonding. It’s believed dogs encourage children to be more social, because they can be conversation starters. The companionship dogs provide is also thought to help alleviate separation anxiety.

2.  Dogs may help reduce the risk of asthma 

While further research is needed, a study in Sweden found being around a dog in the first year of life may reduce the risk of developing asthma at six years of age. 

These findings bolster the argument exposure to dogs may help to strengthen a child’s immune system, however, more research is needed in this area as studies have had conflicting results.
 
 The researchers stress if a child is already allergic to dogs, or already has asthma , it’s not a good idea to get a puppy.
 

3.  Dogs may help kids develop nurturing skills

Pet ownership may help play an important role in a child’s development teaching emotional intelligence, which they can carry through into their adult life. Giving your child tasks like feeding and walking the dog or brushing its coat can help teach children responsibility, empathy and nurturing skills. 

Dogs may  also help provide comfort and help children develop self-esteem and self-confidence.

4.  Kids with dogs exercise more

It seems our four legged friends’ love of exercise can rub off on kids. Walking, running or playing with your dog is an important part of pet ownership and can be a really fun responsibility for a child.
 
Research shows families with dogs exercise more than those without one. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found kids with dogs were active for 11 minutes longer every day than those from pet-free households. 
 
While every family and every dog is different, there can be many benefits for families who own a pet. Remember welcoming a dog into the family is a big responsibility and it’s important to choose the right dog at the right time in your life, and to care for them and keep them healthy . 
 
Researching and planning the arrival of a new pup can be a great project to involve the whole family in. There are a lot of dogs in need of a good home so it’s worth checking with your local shelter to see if you can find the perfect pooch for your family.

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