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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Feb 27;14(3). pii: E234. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14030234.

Companion Animals and Child/Adolescent Development: A Systematic Review of the Evidence.

Author information

1
Institute of Infection and Global Health, and Institute of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Neston, Cheshire CH64 7TE, UK. r.purewal@liverpool.ac.uk.
2
Institute of Infection and Global Health, and Institute of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Neston, Cheshire CH64 7TE, UK. robc@liverpool.ac.uk.
3
Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, University at Buffalo, 270 Farber Hall, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA. kkordas@buffalo.edu.
4
School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK. kkordas@buffalo.edu.
5
School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK. carol.joinson@bristol.ac.uk.
6
School of Psychology, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, Lincolnshire LN6 7TS, UK. kmeints@lincoln.ac.uk.
7
Department of Psychology, State University of New York, Fredonia, NY 14063, USA. nancy.gee@fredonia.edu.
8
WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, Waltham-on-the-Wolds, Melton Mowbray, Leics LE14 4RT, UK. nancy.gee@fredonia.edu.
9
Institute of Infection and Global Health, and Institute of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Neston, Cheshire CH64 7TE, UK. carri.westgarth@liverpool.ac.uk.

Abstract

Childhood and adolescence are important developmental phases which influence health and well-being across the life span. Social relationships are fundamental to child and adolescent development; yet studies have been limited to children's relationships with other humans. This paper provides an evidence review for the potential associations between pet ownership and emotional; behavioural; cognitive; educational and social developmental outcomes. As the field is in the early stages; a broad set of inclusion criteria was applied. A systematic search of databases and grey literature sources found twenty-two studies meeting selection criteria. The review found evidence for an association between pet ownership and a wide range of emotional health benefits from childhood pet ownership; particularly for self-esteem and loneliness. The findings regarding childhood anxiety and depression were inconclusive. Studies also showed evidence of an association between pet ownership and educational and cognitive benefits; for example, in perspective-taking abilities and intellectual development. Evidence on behavioural development was unclear due to a lack of high quality research. Studies on pet ownership and social development provided evidence for an association with increased social competence; social networks; social interaction and social play behaviour. Overall, pet ownership and the significance of children's bonds with companion animals have been underexplored; there is a shortage of high quality and longitudinal studies in all outcomes. Prospective studies that control for a wide range of confounders are required.

KEYWORDS:

adolescent development; child development; human-animal interaction; pet ownership; review

PMID:
28264460
PMCID:
PMC5369070
DOI:
10.3390/ijerph14030234
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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