RVC researchers have appealed for families to join a new study examining the effects of dog ownership on children’s mental health during the COVID-19 crisis.
Participants have until 9 May to sign up for the Pandemic Pals project, which has received funding from the Society of Companion Animal Studies.
The work follows on from the college’s Pandemic Puppies programme, which examined the impact of the outbreak on dogs and the reasons why owners acquire them.
Project lead Rowena Packer said: “Within this, the deeply recognisable human story of a desire to improve mental health via the companionship of dogs has endured – particularly for those households concerned by the impact of the pandemic upon their children.
“We are excited to expand our body of work to explore the important relationships between children and dogs in households during the pandemic, including the highs and lows of these relationships, and whether expectations were met by reality.”
Research technician Claire Brand added: “There is strong evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the mental health of children in the UK, as a result of social restrictions imposed during 2020 and 2021 to restrict the spread of the virus.
“We are motivated to understand if and how dogs – both newly acquired puppies during the pandemic and those already living in the household during this time – impacted the well-being of children during the pandemic.”
To be eligible to take part, families must be UK residents and have bought a dog of any breed, or cross-breed aged younger than 16 weeks from a private seller between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2021.
Owners also need to be the parents or guardians of a child, or children aged between 8 and 17.
Further information about the study is available online.
Credit to: Families urged to join new RVC study of pandemic pet ownership (Vet Times)
Vet Times. (2023). Families urged to join new RVC study of pandemic pet ownership [online]
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