Kids tend to think of all the good, fun parts of having a pet. Parents who are experienced, or even first-time pet owners, know there is a lot of patience, time and effort involved in pet ownership. The payoff of sharing your home and life is the unconditional love a well-cared-for pet gives. In our experience, it’s well worth it. For those parents sitting on the edge, here are several positive reasons you might not have thought of for having pets in your home.
- Children who grow up in homes with pets have less risk of developing common allergies and asthma. According to a study by Dennis Ownby, MD, a pediatrician and head of the allergy and immunology department of the Medical College of Georgia, in Augusta, having multiple pets actually decreases a child’s risk of developing certain allergies. His research tracked a group of 474 babies from birth to about age 7. He found that the children who were exposed to two or more dogs or cats as babies were less than half as likely to develop common allergies as kids who had no pets in the home.
- Playing with dogs can help lower some peoples blood pressure.
- Kids with pets get outside more—to go for walks, run and play—and enjoy all the associated health benefits. The whole family can benefit from this.
- Pet owners require fewer doctor’s visits.
- Emerging readers often feel more comfortable reading aloud to a pet. Researchers monitored their stress levels, and found that kids were most relaxed around the animal, not the humans. “If you’re struggling to read and someone says, ‘Time to pick up your book and work,’ that’s not a very attractive offer,” Dr. Jalongo, an education professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania says. “Curling up with a dog or cat, on the other hand, is a lot more appealing.”
- Feeding and caring for a pet encourages childhood responsibility.
- Children with pets display improved impulse control, social skills and self-esteem. Psychologists June McNicholas and Glyn Collis of the University of Warwick in England found that when it comes to the social networks of children, “cats and dogs frequently ranked higher than many human relationships.” In another survey of 338 children, McNicholas found that:
- 40 percent of children sought out their pet if they were upset.
- 40 percent looked for interactions with their pet if they were bored.
- 85 percent regarded their pets as a playmate.
- 53 percent liked to watch TV or videos with their pet.
- In other research, when children aged seven to 10 years were asked to name their ‘10 most important individuals’, family pets virtually always made the list.
- Sharing the love and care of a family pet forges an additional common bond among siblings.
- Cuddling a pet reduces stress, loneliness and anxiety.
What benefits have you found to your children having a pet?