Family Pets Boost Child Development

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 Child Health News
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BRUSSELS, March 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --

New study finds that pets promote social skills and self-esteem in children

 

Growing up with a pet can bring social, emotional and educational benefit to children and adolescents according to a newly published study.  Youngsters with pets tend to have greater self-esteem, less loneliness, and enhanced social skills.

This research adds strength to claims that household pets can help support healthy child development.  

     (Photo: http://mma.prnewswire.com/media/471523/Family_pets_child_development.jpg )

"Anyone that has grown up with, and loved a family pet intrinsically feels the value of their companionship," says Dr Carri Westgarth, project leader. "The scientific evidence investigating the benefits to children and adolescent development looks promising. We dug deep into that evidence to understand which potential benefits were most strongly supported. Ultimately, this will enable us to know more about how pets provide young people with emotional, educational and social support."

The University of Liverpool Study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health was funded by the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, part of Mars Petcare and led by Dr Carri Westgarth, Institute of Infection and Global Health. Researchers carried out an in-depth review and quality evaluation of studies investigating the effects of pet ownership on emotional, educational or behavioural development in children and adolescents.

"Critical ages for the impact of pet ownership on self-esteem, appear to be greatest for children under 6, and preadolescents and adolescents over 10. Generally dogs and cats are deemed to be the best providers of social support, perhaps due to a higher level of interaction and reciprocation in comparison to other pets," says Rebecca Purewal, lead author. "In both western and non-western cultures, pets may act as a form of psychological support, helping youths feel good about themselves and enabling a positive self-image."

"The patterns among sub-populations and age groups suggests that companion animals have the potential to promote healthy child and adolescent development," says WALTHAM researcher Nancy Gee, a co-author of the study. "This is an exciting field of study and there is still much to learn about the processes through which pet ownership may impact healthy child development."

University of Liverpool

The University of Liverpool is one of the UK's leading research institutions with 81% of research rated world leading or internationally excellent. Liverpool is ranked in the top 1% of higher education institutions worldwide and is a member of the Russell Group. Visit http://www.liv.ac.uk or follow us on twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/livuninews

About the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition:

The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition is the fundamental science centre for Mars Petcare and focuses on the nutrition and wellbeing of dogs, cats, horses, birds and fish, and their benefits to humans. Located in Leicestershire, England, WALTHAM[TM] expertise and knowledge informs the development of innovative products that meet the needs of companion animals in a practical way. The centre recently celebrated its half century and has pioneered many important breakthroughs in the field, publishing over 600 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Today, WALTHAM continues to collaborate with the world's foremost scientific institutes, driving Mars Petcare's vision to create 'A Better World for Pets' and delivering the science that underpins leading Mars brands such as PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, ROYAL CANIN®, BANFIELD Pet Hospital, and IAMS®, CESAR®, NUTRO®, SHEBA®, DREAMIES® and EUKANUBA®. http://www.waltham.com  



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