By Ryan Morrison For Mailonline
Published: 17:24 GMT, 26 March 2020 | Updated: 17:24 GMT, 26 March 2020
Growing up with a dog or a cat in the house means you are 20 per cent less likely to have social and emotional problems as an adult, a study claims.
Researchers from the University of Western Australia found pets were particularly beneficial to only children living in homes without brothers or sisters.
They studied children aged five and then again when they turned seven to find out the impact animals have on their mental and physical health.
The Australian study found small children with a pet are less likely to be naughty at school and more likely to socialise with other children.
Growing up with a dog or a cat in the house means you are 20 per cent less likely to have social and emotional problems as an adult, a study claims. Stock image
The benefits of a pet are well known for adults, from walking dogs to increase exercise activity to having cats as companions for those on their own.
Having pets at home leads to an increase in confidence and teaches them vital lessons about caring for others, trustworthiness and friendship, the study found.
Even the death of a pet, while heartbreaking, can help kids develop an understanding about loss and develop their emotional understanding, said the University of Western Australia research for the specialist Journal of Pediatrics.
The authors looked at data from a nationwide study of more than 4,200 Australian children at both age five and, again, at age seven which included a psychological questionnaire measuring social-emotional development.
The massive study also looked at children's personality strengths and weaknesses.
One in four of the study group - 27 per cent - had abnormal scores but those with pets were, on average, 20 per cent less likely to be among them.
The scores were better for those with either a dog or a cat compared to those without pets at all, the study