Are pets good for children? 10 good reasons to own an animal
Most parents have been there. The children are begging for a pet – whether it’s a kitten or a rabbit, a puppy or a hamster. But is the responsibility and extra work worth it?
Only you know whether you can make the commitment, but there are quite compelling reasons why keeping animals is good for a youngster’s development.
They reduce allergies
Researchers at the University of Warwick found that pet-owning kids were able to fight off infection better than those without.
Health psychologist Dr June McNicholas found children with animals at home were likely to have a stronger immune system and be less prone to childhood allergies and asthma.
So while you may be asking yourself “Why are pets good with children?” one important answer is that animals are actually good for a child’s health.
They teach responsibility
The best pets for kids are ones which they can help to look after. That may mean cleaning out the rabbit hutch or giving the dog a bath. Either way, it’s a regular chore which offers them a sense of achievement and teaches them that some jobs just need to be done, if they love their furry friends and want to have a hand in their wellbeing.
They help with learning
Animals and children are often put together in a therapeutic setting, to calm youngsters and make them open to learning. Research has shown reluctant readers will feel more comfortable reading to their pet – because they see them as a non-judgemental friend. Kids with an interest in the animal kingdom can learn so much. For example, building a bird feeder in the garden encourages youngsters to watch the different breeds which come into the garden, learning what they eat and where they come from.
They are fun
Pets can be enjoyed by the whole family. Whether it’s getting Mum outdoors for some fresh air while walking the dog, or having the kids interact and play with their animals, there are any number of pets suitable for children – but adults can’t help adoring them too.
They teach the circle of life
Gerbils and hamsters can be considered the best small pets for children, but they only live around three years. It can be a tough lesson, but everyone needs to deal with loss at some time in their lives. Teaching kids to handle the loss of a pet is the gentlest way to introduce this harsh reality.
They provide companionship
Many families find dogs that are good with children can help to ward off loneliness or feelings of isolation. Youngsters who struggle to make friends or who suffer from shyness are known to find pets a good way of developing their social skills.
They lower anxiety and blood pressure
Stroking animals has been proven to have health benefits, including lowering anxiety and blood pressure. Having cats or small dogs that are good with children will lead to noticeable mental and physical health improvements for the kids – and for you too.
They encourage fitness
Rain or shine, a dog needs to be walked. So animals, particularly bigger ones, are more likely to be an incentive to exercise. It’s effortless, and there are no excuses.
They bond families
A pet is more likely to bring the family together, whether you’re sharing the workload in looking after your pet, or just spending time in the company of your four-legged friend. A family is likely to interact more with a furry companion around.
They comfort us
Whatever mood we might be in, coming home to a pet who is happy to see us lifts the spirits. There’s a sense of contentment in sitting with a cat snuggling into your lap, or a dog lying by the fireplace. Whether you’re already researching what dogs are good with children, or planning to start small, bringing an animal into the household has so many benefit