Online Program

Pet dogs and child health

Monday, November 4, 2013

Anne Gadomski, MD, MPH, Research Institute, Bassett Medical Center, Cooperstown, NY
Melissa Scribani, MPH, Research Institute Computing Center, Bassett Medical Center, Cooperstown, NY
Zsolt Nagykaldi, PhD, Family & Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Nicole Krupa, MS, Research Institute Computing Center, Bassett Medical Center, Cooperstown, NY
Paul Jenkins, PhD, Research Institute Computing Center, Bassett Medical Center, Cooperstown, NY
Ardis L. Olson, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Community and Family Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, NH
Pet dogs are an under-studied factor in child health. Our objective is to determine how pet dogs affect child mental and physical health. Parents of children, ages 4 to 10, coming for a well-child visit, completed a web-based, pre-visit screener, using a tablet. The screener domains included child body mass index (BMI), physical activity, screen time, mental health indicators and pet-related questions. For families with dogs, the screener included a Body Condition Scale (BCS) to estimate the dog's weight and the Companion Animal Bonding Scale (CABS) to measure child attachment to the dog. Dog ownership, dog BCS and CABS were tested for association with child mental health indicators (SDQ Impact, PSC-17, SCARED-5, history of mental disorder), calculated BMI, physical activity and screen time. To date, 212 children were enrolled (targeted sample size=500) and 66% have dogs. Dog ownership was not associated with BMI z-score, SCARED score, SDQ Impact or physical activity (p=0.58, p=0.11, p=0.88, p=0.92, and 0.23 respectively. TV time was unrelated to dog ownership (p=0.81), as was video game time (p=0.29. Data were too sparse to analyze history of mental disorder. Among dog owners, CABS was not related to BMI-z score (Spearman's r=0.08, p=0.37), SCARED score (r=-0.13, p=0.13), PSC-17 (r=-0.23, p=0.15) or SDQ Impact (p=0.97. There was no significant correlation between dog BCS and child BMI z-score (r=0.17, p=.08). Preliminary results suggest that pet dog ownership is not associated with child BMI or mental health measures. As data collection is on-going, results will be updated at time of presentation.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss how pets, specifically dogs, affect child mental and physical health indicators.

Keyword(s): Animals and Public Health, Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator of this federally funded grant designed to describe the relationships between pets and multiple child health indicators. I am a primary care pediatrician and health services researcher with particular expertise in the health needs of rural children and families. My current areas of research include children’s mental health services in primary care, program evaluation and tobacco control and prevention.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3206.1: Human-Animal Health