Fact or Fiction: Dogs, Kids and Health

By: Staff

Therapy dogs can help some children learn to read.

A program in one Albuquerque, N.M., school found that dogs improved the reading skills of some special education students.

Children who have pets at home have a less favorable view of wild animals.

Studies showed that children had better attitudes toward other animals if those children had pets at home.

A child’s body actually goes through physical changes when the child spends about a half hour with a dog.

After spending about 30 minutes with a dog, children, and adults for that matter, begin to feel less anxious. That’s because the level of cortisol -- a hormone related to stress in humans -- decreases. In addition, being with a dog increases the body’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with good emotional health.

Having a dog or cat at home can lower a child's cholesterol.

Researchers say that all pet owners have lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides compared to people who don't own a pet.

Dog owners have a lower risk of dying from heart failure.

One study suggests that dog owners had a better survival rate one year after a heart attack as opposed to cardiac victims who didn’t own a dog.

Children who suffer autism can relate better to a dog than they can to a human.

Many people claim that dogs help autistic children communicate better and concentrate longer. Studies are now underway to see whether dogs can impact the behavior of autistic children.

Children who grow up around pets are more likely to develop allergies.

Researchers say when children grow up in a home with a dog or cat they are less likely to develop allergies. That’s because the allergens carried by these furry animals bolster the child’s immune system. The same holds true for growing up with farm animals.

Dogs can warn diabetic children when there is a sudden drop in the child’s level of blood glucose.

About one in three dogs has this ability. The dogs can alert a parent when a drop in their child’s glucose level is about to happen. Once the dog sounds the alert, the child has enough time to eat a snack to bolster the glucose level.

Doctors recommend that kids with ADHD should not be allowed to have a dog as a pet because of the child's erratic behavior.

This is so not true. Kids with ADHD are encouraged to own a dog because the child not only learns responsibility, but also can release pent up energy playing and walking the dog.

“Seizure dogs” are specially trained to work with children who suffer from ADHD.

Seizure dogs are trained to bark and alert parents when an epileptic child is having a seizure.

Children living with a dog are less active than children who do not have a dog at home.

One study shows that children with dogs spend an average of 325 minutes doing physical activity per day. That’s 11 minutes more than those without dogs. Another study says teens with dogs are more active than teens without a dog.

A child who did not talk for six years started talking when a therapy dog visited his school.

First-grader Marc Oliviere did not make a peep in school or at home. Doctors diagnosed his condition as “selective mutism.” Then one day a therapy dog named “Boo” visited the class and Marc could not wait to tell his parents what he saw in school.

Children who are not pet owners deal with death better than children who have pets.

Certain studies conclude that children with dogs cope better with death than children who do not have pets.

Petting a dog can help a child keep high blood pressure at bay.

Although it's no substitute for weight loss and exercise, studies showed that children and adults can lower their blood pressure by petting a dog.

Therapists often tell their depressed patients to keep away from dogs.

Many therapists encourage their patients to interact with animals. Taking care of a pet allows a depressed person to feel better about the way they spend their time.

Children are more likely to make friends when they have a pet.

A dog is a conversation piece that barks. Pet owners have a tendency to meet and talk to other pet owners.

Dogs can help autistic children become more social.

A study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found that dogs help autistic children develop social skills.

Pets, including dogs, can relieve pain.

One study from Loyola University found that surgery patients who interacted with pets, including dogs, needed less pain medication than those who did not interact with the animals.

Children with pets spend less time in school.

Researchers say children ages 5 to 7 who have a pet attend school three weeks more per year on average than those who don’t have pets.

Dogs and other pets reduce stress in children and adults more than a friend or family member.

Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that when faced with a stressful situation, people felt better when their pets were with them as opposed to when a spouse, family member or close friend was nearby.

Explore More Quizzes

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Whether we want to believe it or not, owning a dog, or simply being around man's best friend, has a number of health benefits. See if you can separate fact from fiction.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!