Is the Dog a Child’s Best Friend?

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Marina Mota - Corresponding Author

Marina Mota []
Hospital Santa Maria, CHULN, Av. Professor Egas Moniz, 1649-035 Lisbon, Portugal

Ana Raquel Henriques
Jéssica Sousa
Rosa Martins
Ana Margarida Neves


In recent years, there has been a growing scientific interest in the field of human-animal interaction, and the results have suggested several potential benefits in both adults and children. Dogs can play an important role in children’s social, emotional and cognitive development. Playing with the dog can also contribute to increase children’s physical activity, improving their quality of life.
However, it is undeniable that there are unfavorable effects or risks that must be considered. The most frequently mentioned are allergy, asthma and transmission of zoonotic diseases. In addition, risks such as aggression and bites must also be considered. It has been studied whether the age of exposure to the dog can influence the risk of allergic disease, and there are not enough data. There is no evidence to support the existence of hypoallergenic species.
The physician must inform the family of all the risks and benefits associated with owning a dog, contributing to an informed and conscious parental decision. It is also advisable to carefully select the dog, taking into account its intrinsic characteristics, namely aggressiveness. Factors such as available daily time, adequate space, caregivers for periods of absence and economic availability should also be considered.

Keywords: Bites and Stings; Child; Dogs; Human-Animal Bond; Hypersensitivity; Risk Factors; Zoonoses

Article Details

Mota M, Henriques AR, Sousa J, Martins R, Neves AM. Is the Dog a Child’s Best Friend?. Gaz Med [Internet]. 2023 Mar. 8 [cited 2023 Jun. 8];10(1):31-6. Available from: