Why Kids Should Have a Pet


There is always that issue that seems to arise when the kids get puppy fever. This so called puppy fever seems to always happen when kids hit the magical age of six. So while there are ways to tell your kids no, I won’t do that because I am an animal lover. However did you know there may be some health benefits associated with kids having a pet? Now if these reasons are enough to encourage you to get a dog please consider rescuing from an animal shelter as sometimes pet stores have dogs that come from puppy mills which are very bad. Or if you insist on going through a breeder there are certain rules with that put I don’t want to rant about that right now. However here are some reasons why you should get a pet.

Pets can help with learning

Kids, especially those learning to read, sometimes lack confidence. In fact, in an article about The Benefit of Pets by Bill Strickland, “Educators have long known that bringing therapy animals (mostly dogs) into schools helps developmentally challenged kids learn. Now they are finding that all children can benefit from the presence of a nonjudgmental pal with paws. In one study, children were asked to read in front of a peer, an adult, and a dog. Researchers monitored their stress levels, and found that kids were most relaxed around the animal, not the humans.” In fact, if you have seen the news recently on Facebook but numerous animal shelters around the United States are taking everything a step further and having kids come in to read to the dogs in the shelter. The dogs learn to socialize and the kids can practice their reading in a unique relationship. So while your kid is practicing its reading, have a dog or cat come curl up next to them.

Pets can help your health

It is no secret in the medical world that pets are great for health. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, “linked the ownership of pets, especially dogs, with a reduced risk for heart disease and greater longevity.”

However with younger children there are benefits too according to the same article at Usnews.com, “Babies who live with dogs and cats during their first year of life may be less susceptible to respiratory infections, such as the common cold, according to new research.” The article also goes on to point out that “Babies with dogs in the home were 44 percent less likely to develop an ear infection, and 29 percent less likely to need antibiotics than their petless peers.” Also not to mention that it is noted that in “Previous research on pets in the home has suggested that animals, and dogs in particular, may provide some protection against the development of asthma and allergies.” (US News: Health) It worth also knowing that, “Children raised in a house with two or more dogs or cats during the first year of life may be less likely to develop allergic diseases as compared with children raised without pets, according to a study in the August 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.”

It is also worth noting that pets are good for kids in numerous ways for heath.  According to Helpguide.org,

  • Unlike parents or teachers, pets are never critical and don’t give orders. They are always loving and their mere presence at home can help provide a sense of security in children. Having an ever-present dog can help ease separation anxiety in children when mom and dad aren’t around.
  • Having the love and companionship of a loyal dog can make a child feel important and help him or her develop a positive self-image.
  • Kids who are emotionally attached to their dog are better able to build relationships with other people.
  • Studies have also shown that dogs can help calm hyperactive or overly aggressive kids. Of course, both the dog and the child need to be trained to behave appropriately with each other.

Although dogs are not only just beneficial to young kids, but can do well with kids with disabilities as well, according to Helpguide.org,

  • Pets can help children with learning disabilities learn how to regulate stress and calm themselves, making them better equipped to overcome the challenges of their disorder.
  • Playing and exercising with a dog can help a child with learning disorders stay alert and attentive throughout the day. It can also be a great antidote to stress and frustration caused by the learning disabilities.

It is worth noting that pets can help with mood too, as something about just spending just a couple minutes around your dog or cat, or even watching a goldfish swim, can release chemicals which help make you feel good.

As mentioned above, pets are shown to help lower blood pressure. I know it was mentioned somewhat above, but there are studies to back this up too. According to Webmd, “In one study of 240 married couples, pet owners had lower blood pressure and lower heart rates during rest than people who didn’t have a pet. Another study showed that when children with high blood pressure petted their dog, their numbers improved.” In fact, according to an article by Healthguide.org, “Studies have also found that:

  • Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
  • People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
  • Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
  • Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
  • Heart attack patients with dogs survive longer than those without.
  • Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets. (Healthguide.org)

Pets can help with exercise

It is no secret that dogs are a great motivator to helping humans get exercise, in fact according to the New York Times, “Several studies now show that dogs can be powerful motivators to get people moving. Not only are dog owners more likely to take regular walks, but new research shows that dog walkers are more active overall than people who don’t have dogs.” In fact, “researchers from Michigan State University reported that among dog owners who took their pets for regular walks, 60 percent met federal criteria for regular moderate or vigorous exercise.” (New York Times, 2011) In fact, getting a cat moving might be good for cats too as jumping around with toys could be beneficial for your health as well.


Pets can help teach nurturing

Let’s face it. Pets take responsibility. However owning a pet can help teach kids how to nurture, because it is actually illegal to leave kids home along under the age of 16 believe it or not. So to learn responsibility kids can help with daily feeding of the pet, helping to exercise the pet (and there are benefits of it as mentioned above), kids can help groom the pet, and to clean up after the pet too. Older kids can learn skills too from being a pet owner such as how to take care of another living creature (start with a goldfish if they are really young). So really, you just need to step in every once in a while but let the kids handle most of the work, plus how could you say no to that little face?

There are many more reasons that I could name for why a kid should have a pet but there is one that I have not mentioned yet: because in the end it is rewarding. Pets make lives better in my opinion, and I could talk until I am blue in the face about why dogs and cats are good. However I am going to leave it at this. If you want to chat about how you’re pet has helped your kids, or pets in general are good. Please leave a comment below so we can talk about the pet in your life. If you are interested in a dog, check out what the local animal shelters have because honestly some of these little guys and girls are so cute and in need of a good home!

Author: Courtney Swessinger

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