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Pet Ownership, Child Anxiety, Child Physical Activity and Mother's Perception of Children's Health Status

By Noel David Castro, Eric W. Lindsey

Category Journal Articles

This study examined possible connections between pet ownership and children’s health status, as mediated by children’s anxiety and physical activity. A total of 134 mothers with a preschool age child participated in the study. Mothers completed a demographic survey, responded to questions about owning a pet, and reported on their child’s anxiety, physical activity, and physical health status. Mean comparisons revealed that children from households with a pet had lower scores on mother reported anxiety, higher scores on mother reported physical health and psychosocial health, and lower scores on mother reported vulnerability to illness, compared to children from households without a pet. Regression analyses revealed that associations between pet ownership and mother’s reports of children’s physical health and lower vulnerability to illness, but not psychosocial health, remained significant even after accounting for mother education and family income. In addition, the association between pet ownership and child physical health and vulnerability to illness was partially mediated by mother reported child anxiety. The present study supports previous evidence to suggest that pet ownership is associated with better health outcomes for children, and that this link may be accounted for by child anxiety.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2021
Publication Title Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin
Volume 9
Issue 2
Pages 27-45
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Children
  3. Child Welfare
  4. open access
  5. Pet ownership
  6. physical activity
  7. preschools
  1. open access