Regarding the ongoing debate of whether children’s health is directly linked to their pet has now finally found its answer. According to a study held by American think tank RAND Corporation, a large-scale research phase had taken place to distinguish the link between pet ownership and children’s health. And according to this new study, there is no disparity in health between the child and the pet.
The findings from the research have snubbed the popular belief that cats or dogs can tend to improve the mental and physical states of children. RAND used advanced statistical measuring tools to gauge the mental and physical health of the child. In fact, the income of the family and their affluent upbringing affected their health instead of having pets. The research was conducted by numerous analysts who themselves owned pets in their lifetime and were equally surprised at the findings. They could not find evidence where children with pets at home had better health compared to those without pets. The study had taken information from over 2,200 children in pet-owning households and had compared them with 3,000 households where there was an absence of pets.
According to RAND’s official report on the study, the research did show slight inclinations towards owning a pet, where households that did own a pet produced children who had somewhat better general health, have slightly more weight, and were more prone to being active physically compared to those without a pet. Those who had pets were also more prone to have ADD/ADHD and were more likely to be obedient to their parents. Having said that, when the researchers did account for the variables such as income, language and housing, it was found that the association between having better health with a pet disappeared. The study had taken into account over 100 behavioral characteristics of the households to come up to this conclusion.
The researchers do however, claim that for future studies on the link between child health and owning a pet should involve taking into account experimental settings as well as impact of a specific duration of time. A kind of A-B testing would also be needed to be undertaken where a select group of individuals would be given pets and the others would not. These groups will be followed and analysed for 10 years to 15 years in order to see if there are any long-terms differences in either group’s health. But such a study will incur high costs and will be regarded as being not too feasible to implement.
For now, we shall be able to take solace in the fact that although pets may not affect our health in anyway, they can definitely affect our happiness.