On the fence about giving in to your little ones’ pleas for a family pet? The latest research may turn the odds in your kids’ favor. In a recent cross-sectional study of nearly 650 children between the ages of 4 and 10, researchers at Bassett Medical Center in New York found that having a dog seemed to reduce the children’s anxiety levels, compared with children who did not have a pet dog. The study, published by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, found that 21 percent of the children who did not have a dog tested positive on an anxiety screening, compared with just 12 percent of the kids who lived with a pooch.
In a separate study published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers found that being exposed to dogs and farm animals at an early age may help protect children against asthma and boost their immune system. The study tracked all children born in Sweden from 2000 to 2010, and found that being around dogs in the child’s first year of life reduced asthma risk by 13 percent by the time they became school-age. Exposure to farm animals early on cut the risk of asthma in half in school-aged children and reduced it by nearly a third in preschoolers.