Categories: dog ownership

Dogs help prevent schizophrenia but cats don’t

The title might upset cat lovers but they should not be because it is the findings of a study. Studies are not gospel truth. Far from it often. And the researchers have cautioned that more research is needed.

Dog and Baby. Image by Karen Warfel from Pixabay

The lead author of this study is Dr Robert Yolken, a professor at John Hopkin’s children’s centre. Their finding suggest that..

..exposure to a dog at anytime in childhood reduced their likelihood of being diagnosed with schizophrenia by almost a quarter – Andrew Gregory reporting in The Times.

People who were exposed to a dog from babyhood were 55% less likelihood to develop schizophrenia.

The largest apparent protective effect was found for children who had a household pet dog at birth or were first exposed after birth but before age three. – Dr Robert Yolken

Schizophrenia is a terrible mental health problem causing a range of symptoms including hallucinations, delusions and muddled thoughts. The USA is well placed on a global scale in terms of the number pf people per 100,000 who suffer from the disease (disability-adjusted life years rates per 100,000 inhabitants). It is ranked 181 out of 192 countries and therefore has a relatively low rate of schizophrenia. The UK ranks at 185, also a low rate. Indonesia is the worst at 321.9 people per 100,000.

The researchers have not worked out the reason for the link between dog ownership and risk of this mental health condition.

They concluded that there was no link between early exposure with domestic cats and an increased or decreased risk of developing schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

The study involved 1,371 adults between the age of 18 and 65 living in Baltimore, Maryland, USA of which 396 had schizophrenia and 381 had bipolar disorder.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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