Pets : the health benefits of children questioned

Health 15 August, 2017


Published the 15.08.2017 at 14h35


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Having pets is a definite asset to the health of children ? A scientific study that casts doubt on this assertion well known. These large works, conducted on the largest cohort with this topic (5200 participants) put into effect the benefits of pets for the mental and physical health of young people.

In fact, several studies previously published in prestigious magazines suggested that dogs, cats and other fur balls were associated with better capacity for empathy, a better immune system, fewer allergies and asthma, or even at a higher rate of physical activity among children.


However, the latest research, published in the journal Anthrozoos, show that these studies have a level of evidence as insufficient. To achieve this, the author used a statistical tool to control for multiple factors that could contribute to strengthening the health of children in the previous studies, and bias their results. Several factors of bias have been identified, such as the fact of belonging to a family who has a higher income or a larger unit.

By comparing the data of 2200 children who have grown up with pets with those of 3000 participants without a dog or cat, the authors have observed that the first had actually a state of health generally better, weight less high, and more intense physical activities. But also by integrating factors of bias on the social level, for example, this association disappeared.

In the end, ” we could find no evidence that children who have grown up with dogs or cats have better health, on the mental plane as physics, other “, write the authors, who are said to be “surprised” by these results. Other studies need to be conducted to conclude to the true benefits of pets.