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The Benefits of Having a Family Pet

The Benefits of Having a Family Pet
Posted on December 27, 2017 by CHS

Pets come in all shapes and sizes – from dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, turtles, bunnies, and many more. No matter which type of animal it may be, pets can bring joy into our life and create memories that last a lifetime. However, the addition of a family pet brings increased responsibilities for every member of your family. This can be a great opportunity to help your child develop his ability to care for others. According to Dr. Gail F. Melson, PhD, professor of developmental studies at Purdue University, “by age 8, girls are more likely to be involved than boys in baby care … but when it comes to pet care, genders remain equally involved.” Having a pet is a great way for boys to learn about nurturing from early childhood. If you are not sure whether or not your child is ready to raise a pet, start off small with either goldfish or hamsters.

Here are reasons why having a pet is good for both the kids and adults in your family provided by Bill Strickland from Parents Magazine.

Pets Can Help Your Child Learn
According to Strickland, “educators have long known that bringing therapy animals (mostly dogs) into schools helps developmentally challenged kids learn.” You can also find that children are more at ease around animals than humans. In a study, children’s stress level was monitored when asked to read to their peers, an adult, and a dog. The study showed that children had the least stress when reading to the dog compared to their peers and to an adult. Your child can improve her reading level by having story times with her pet.

Pets Are Comforting
Pets are great ice-breakers in any situations for people of all ages. For young children that are shy or have low self-esteem, talking about pets can create close bonds with other children. Pets can also provide support when your child feels emotions like sadness, anger, or fear because children are more likely to open up to animals than people. According to Pet Health Council, when your child is doing a task that is difficult, he can feel “more confident in performing tasks they find difficult with an animal simply because the animal does not care if mistakes are made, nor will the child be afraid of looking silly in front of the animal.”

Pets Can Improve Your Child’s Overall Health
Having a pet can improve your child’s physical fitness and immune system. For example, having a dog means you would need to take the dog out for a walk and play together outside. This lifestyle can get your child to exercise more and burn extra calories. According to the Pet Health Council, “children who live with a cat or dog in their first years of life have a lower incidence of hay fever and asthma and are less likely to develop animal-related allergies.” While researchers can’t completely understand why, Dr. Denny Ownby, MD, a pediatrician and head of the allergy and immunology department of the Medical College of Georgia, theorizes that “when a child plays with a dog or a cat, the animals usually lick him … that lick transfers bacteria that live in animals’ mouths, and the exposure to the bacteria may change the way the child’s immune system responds to other allergens.”

Pets Bring Families Closer
Your pet will be included in many family events like going to the park, picnic, beach, hike, or a walk around the neighborhood. While your pet might be an animal, it is also an important family member that your whole family loves. Like people, your pet also has the ability to feel love and compassion. While pets may only live for a small portion of our life, pets spend their whole lifetime making sure your family is loved.

You can learn more about why families benefit from having a pet at the links below.

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