So your children want pets? They are begging for a kitten to cuddle or a rabbit they can feed but you’re not so sure, as it is a big commitment. Well, before you make your decision about bringing pets into the family, discover the top ten reasons why having a pet is actually good for your children’s health and development.
1. It decreases allergies
Research shows that children who grow up in homes with pets are likely to have a stronger immune system and less likely to develop childhood allergies and asthma. Research carried out by health psychologist Dr June McNicholas of the University of Warwick and drug company Novartis Animal Health tested the saliva of 138 children aged between four and 11-years-old for IgA antibodies- an antibody found in the immune system that helps fight off infection. Results showed that pet-owning children were able to fend off infection such as colds and flu better than those children without pets, thus having less days off school.
2. It teaches responsibility
Tasks such as walking the dog or cleaning out the rabbit hutch teaches children to be responsible, as well as giving them a sense of achievement. Looking after a pet also helps children to develop empathy for others.
3. It helps with learning
Pets can help children with their learning. Educators have long used animals (mainly dogs) as a form of therapy in schools, using them to help developmentally challenged kids to learn. In particular, animals can help children’s reading skills. Research has shown that students who may be reluctant to read out loud at school feel more confident reading to animals as they see them as a non-judgemental pal.
4. It provides comfort and companionship
Pets offer comfort and companionship to kids. No matter what mood they are in, children find support and security from their animal companion, which often means they are less anxious or withdrawn.
5. It keeps families talking
Having a pet helps to build family bonds as animals are often the focus of family activities. From walking the dog together to grooming or feeding the pet, these simple but enjoyable tasks allow everyone to slow down, enjoy each other’s company and communicate with one another.
6. It encourages a healthy lifestyle
From walking the dog to playing with the family rabbit in the garden, having a pet helps to prompt a healthy lifestyle for their young owners, encouraging them to be outside and running around.
7. It lowers blood pressure
Stroking animals can lower blood pressure and in turn decrease anxiety, thus having a pet can help prepare kids when it comes to tackling homework and exams.
8. It reduces loneliness
Having a pet can help ward off feelings of loneliness and isolation, and keep depression at bay. These health benefits even extend to owning a budgie. Researchers who studied two groups of pensioners, who were given either a pot plant or a budgie to care for, found that after two years the budgie owners were more socially engaged.
9. It teaches the circle of life
Although most parents want to protect their children from the cruelties of the world, having a pet allows kids to understand and learn about the cycle of life. Dealing with the death of a pet can actually help them cope with other challenging life events.
10. It’s fun
Most importantly having a pet is fun. Whether it is a dog, cat, bird or ferret, owning an animal brings enjoyment to any household.