BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Dogs and cats have no “significant” impact on children’s mental and physical health, according to a new study by the RAND Corporation.
Described by the journal as Anthrozoos as the “largest-ever study” on the link between pet ownership and children’s well-being, the study contradicts previous research that suggests that pets help children breathe easier, become more empathetic and experience similar benefits.
However, the nonprofit research organization’s study also suggests that family income, language skills and types of family housing have a significant impact on a child’s health.
After comparing information about 2,200 children with pets against 3,000 kids without them, un-adjusted results initially showed that kids with pets were “significantly healthier than children in non-owning households” in terms of positive behavior and overall health.
But the effects became no longer statistically significant once the estimates were adjusted for other factors, including wealth, the researchers said.
“We could not find evidence that children from families with dogs or cats are better off either in terms of their mental well-being or their physical health,” study co-author Layla Parast, a statistician at RAND, said in a press release. “Everyone on the research team was surprised — we all have or grew up with dogs and cats. We had essentially assumed from our own personal experiences that there was a connection.”