Researchers in Victoria, British Columbia, have found that 5- to 6-year-old children are 50 percent less likely to be overweight or obese if there's a dog in the household, compared with kids who don't have a dog. And 30 percent of 10- to 12-year-olds who don't have a dog suffer from weight problems compared with 27 percent of their peers who have a dog.
The benefits of dog ownership go beyond walking the dog regularly, researchers say. In addition to walks, kids who grow up with a dog are more likely to get off the couch and skip the video games and TV. Instead, they tend to expend energy playing with their dog.