Pets are Healthy for Kids

Little girl asleep with her dog

Pets Bring the Family Together Under One Ruff

Kids are drawn to animals, yet only 4 in 10 children begin life with a pet in the home according to Parents.com. Whether it’s a turtle, dog, pony or rhinoceros, odds are, you’ll probably be begged for a pet at some point. Of course, the first thing that pops into most of our heads is “the added expense,” “the mess,” or “the responsibility I don’t have time for.” A pet is not for everyone, but you might be surprised by the physical, emotional and spiritual value a pet can add to every life it touches.

Happiness and Hugs

Pets take time to care for, but that’s also time away from the television and off the Internet. The bond between children and animals can be seen in countless children’s books and on clothing and toys, details Dr. Gail Mendelson, author of “Why the Wild Things Are: Animals in the Lives of Children.” She points out up to 90 percent of children live with pets at some point in their childhood, and there’s a reason for that. It has been long known, and documented by biologists at Azuba University, that playing with a pet releases oxytocin, or “the love hormone” in both the animal and human. In a single parent home, the unconditional love of a pet can help temper difficult times for you and your children.

A Teaching Tool for Responsibility

Of course, a pet is not right for every home, especially if you have very small children, but if they’re old enough to take part in the pet’s upkeep, the learned responsibility will flood into other arenas of life as well. Of course, it will be up to you to enforce strict ramifications if they don’t follow their end of the bargain. You might need the help of PetSafe bark collar, or obedience classes at Petsmart, but they can help you ensure the dog is a good fit for the family. Once roles and chores have been established, consistent upkeep of a pet teaches kids about responsibility and discipline that permeates to other areas of life. It’s the ultimate “measure the worth by the depth of the hardship” lesson, one that all of us single parents can relate to.

Health and Wellness

Parents.com writer Bill Strickland has always loved to be surrounded by pets, except he never realized the subtle impacts they would have on his children. Beside the obvious responsibility, he noticed that pets helped his daughter foster deeper, more altruistic characteristics like empathy, social, cognitive and physical development. Educators have long known that therapy animals work wonders in school, but their effect on health is much deeper than that. In fact, a study done at the Medical College of Georgia revealed that kids who grew up in homes with pets were less than half as likely to develop allergies, and not just pet allergies — the study shows they can prevent or reduce severity of all types of allergies. Pets aren’t a magic cure for all the trials and tribulations of life, but they offer friendship, love and learning that can’t be replicated by any game or screen.

4 comments

  1. Heather Cooper · · Reply

    I can tell you firsthand that my girls (ages 7 & 9) are extremely in love with our choice to rescue dogs! It gives them a deeper knowledge of what’s more important in the grand scheme of things. Case in point: This past year we were faced with the family decision of whether or not to seek cancer treatment for one of our rescues. The expense was great, but we decided as a family to cut back on personal expenses and use our entire vacation fund to get him treated. I was so proud that my girls were on board with this decision…they didn’t even falter once! I’ll take that life lesson over a vacation any day 😉

    1. What a wonderful life lesson and a memorable one too.

  2. Me too. We had parakeets, dogs, a cat, and even squirrels.

  3. Anonymous · · Reply

    I fondly remember each pet I was allowed to have growing up and still own today. Thanks for letting pets be a part of our home Mom! ~T ^..^ q..p

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