Pet Benefits

2013-04-18 05:35

Children can benefit from having a pet in your home

Whilst having a pet in your home is a very big responsibility for you and your child, bringing an animal into your life can have enormous benefits. Those who truly love and care for their young or old pet can reap the rewards of a loving, trusting and faithful companion as well as numerous health benefits.


Besides a very close bond that builds up between pet and child, pets have been known to decrease high blood pressure, assist in the prevention of heart disease and most certainly combat depression.

Whilst parents enjoy these benefits, animals are able to teach children a couple of lessons in life.

Responsible pet ownership can assist children to develop their independence, as well as set them on the path to becoming mature and dependable adults. Owning a pet can teach children numerous skills and have other benefits, including:


Children can learn the importance of responsibility at an early age, by becoming a pet’s primary care giver. Pets that require more attention, like a cat or dog, can present an opportunity for a parent and child to bond with each other, whilst enjoying the company of their pet. Teaching children how important it is to become responsible for an animal’s life; through their need for food, shelter, exercise, and love, becomes valuable lessons about empathy and compassion.

It can help them to understand the qualities of discipline, patience, kindness and attentiveness.

The responsibility a child has for her pet needs be age appropriate. At the age of three, a child can help to fill food bowls. By five, he can begin to take on some basic grooming tasks as well as help clean the pet's living area. As children reach primary school, they can begin walking a dog independently, and as the teen years approach, the child will most likely be able to take on the bulk of the responsibility for a house pet. Keeping pet-oriented tasks age-appropriate is not only necessary for the safety of the pet, but for the child as well -- both physically and emotionally.


Walking the dog, feeding the guinea pig and talking to the parrot can serve as a fun replacement for television programmes, Play Stations, movies and videos. These pet-related activities help children to remain focused on the task at hand. Enhanced concentration enables them to then cut out distractions, allowing focused time for homework and chores.

Today’s children don’t get to play outdoors as we adults used to do, due to crime statistics and other factors like TV.


Due to these factors, most junior primary schools have a set time where they allow children to have an outside play time with set activities to enhance their motor skills.

Having a pet encourages outdoor play, while your child has a friend and protector. This will also lessen the need for occupational therapy and enhance motor skills.

Walking a dog or running in the garden and throwing a ball are great ways to exercise a dog as well as for children to get away from the TV or game station and move around. Small motor skills can be encouraged by allowing children to scoop food and pour water into dishes, and by helping to groom them. Depending on the child's age, parental supervision is recommended for both the child's and the pet's safety.

Life skills

Bringing a pet into the home as a part of your family can be an effective way of preparing your children for real life situations.

For example, pets are able to ease the tension of sudden change for a child. When mom and dad bring home their new bundle of joy, the older child will still have a great deal of undivided attention from the family pet.

Taking proper care of your pet can also help children to learn how to deal with medical issues and illnesses, when they are exposed to routine veterinary check-ups or when your pet is hurt or ill.

Children are more prone to approach and interact with another child who is playing with a pet. In this way, a pet can be the bridge between a less socially outgoing child and other potential playmates.

In cases where there are bigger issues at hand, children use their pets as their confidant.

In fact pets have great intuitive minds and they know when you or your child is upset.

This can play a huge part in children’s foster homes for abused children as animals are the ones who will more likely gain their trust prior to any adult, and thus aids their rehabilitation.

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.

As children grow, they may develop an interest in a specific type or breed of animal. Encouraging children to read about their favourite pet or to take part in obedience classes with a parent and the pet can all encourage a child's cognitive development as it sparks the desire for learning. Bringing the child along to a veterinarian appointment will give him a chance to ask questions about proper care and his pet's health.

With proper supervision, allowing children to research information about their pet on the internet is another way they can learn about their pet's special needs and unique characteristics. If your child's desired pet is a horse but you live in a second story apartment, encourage your child to research horses anyway. Even if they can't have the pet of their choice, the learning will be valuable to them anyway.

Allergies and illnesses

If your child misses a lot of school due to illness, maybe you should get a cat. Research has shown that children who own pets attend school up to nine more days a year than their non pet-owning classmates. The immune function of pet owners is more stable, making them better able to fend off illness.

Cat hair is thought to be a common source of irritation to the immune system. However, a leading theory still currently under investigation by asthma researchers suggests that the presence of pets in the home, from an early age, may adapt the immune system so it is less sensitive to allergens later in life. Always consult your doctor.

Unconditional love

Children who live with pets show more empathy for others and help others more. This may be related to other findings that children who are raised with pets have a higher self-esteem. This is thought to result from the pet’s unconditional love. No matter what’s going on at school, or with friends, pets always treat children the same way.

Pets play an important role in many children’s lives as they often talk to them and regard them as friends and confidantes. A five-year study of 600 children aged between 3 and 18-years-old showed that pet-owning children, who have challenges such as being slow learners or having divorced parents, cope better with life than those who don’t have a pet.

Having a pet that shows unconditional love, regardless of what is happening in the home can cushion other difficulties in a child’s life.

Brining a pet into the family is not a decision that should be made lightly. It first must be a commitment by the parents, not the child, as they will ultimately be responsible for the pet's welfare. Once that commitment has been made, however, and an appropriate pet has been found for the family, the joys and benefits of the pet relationship will last for many years to come.

For the best advice on choosing an appropriate pet – contact your local animal shelter.


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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