A new study by Mars Petcare confirms the health benefits of pet ownership. This is particularly true when discussing the reduction of stress levels in children.

The results were presented by academics at the 12th International Conference on Human-Animal Interactions in Stockholm. Delegates heard that the same hormone that enables babies to bond with their mothers at birth, also accounts for the power of the emotional connection we form with our pets. The strength of this connection means that children with emotional difficulties have been shown to benefit more from a dog companion than a human one.

The study, Stress Reduction in Children, found that children with a dog present showed lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those with a friendly adult present when exposed to mild social stresses. In addition, the more the children stroked and interacted with the dog, the further their levels of cortisol decreased.