If you’re on the fence about whether to give in and get your child a pet, you might want to read our ‘top 7 reasons why owning a pet is good for children’ to help you make up your mind. In fact, there are many, many benefits – 7 doesn’t really cover it!
Whether they want a dog, cat, hamster or goldfish, having a pet is such a rewarding experience and there is more to be gained than lost, even when you take all the financial expense into account.
So, let’s take a look at the top 7 reasons why experts believe pets should feature in every household.
- Stronger immune systems, fewer allergies – pets harbour germs just like the rest of us, but studies have found that children who are exposed to animals from a young age are actually less likely to develop allergies and asthma later in life, as their immune systems have been strengthened by regular contact with these germs. They are found to have fewer doctor visits, take fewer prescription drugs and are generally healthier physically, emotionally and socially.
- Teaches responsibility – owning any pet comes with a degree of responsibility, which is one of the many reasons some people think children shouldn’t have pets. And they have a point if the child is expected to shoulder all the responsibility themselves. This should be a collective effort with all the household being involved in the pet’s day-to-day care. But even if your child does feel a level of responsibility, this can only be a good thing for their emotional development.
- Provides comfort and companionship – studies have found that children with pets have greater self-esteem and confidence than children growing up without them. This goes for stress and anxiety too. The loyal, non-judgemental support provided by a pet is difficult to compare to any other relationship, and many children report that their best friend is in fact their dog or cat.
- Encourages a healthy lifestyle – owning a dog forces you to be active, whether it’s taking him for a walk or playing with him at home, having a dog keeps you on your toes and gets your blood pumping. In fact, having an exercise buddy is good for both you and your dog, especially if your dog is carrying a few extra pounds.
- Lowers blood pressure – the association between pet ownership and cardiovascular risk has been particularly well documented. As well as helping you achieve the recommended amount of physical activity, the calming presence of a pet also helps lower blood pressure in stressful situations, which can significantly reduce your risk of a heart attack. Added advantages include reducing cholesterol and improving mood, which has many physical benefits.
- Improves social skills – studies have found that children from pet-friendly households are more sociable, assertive and confident at school than those without pets, as well as being more responsible. Skills such as asking for advice, introducing themselves, and volunteering answers to questions are also seen more in children with pets. These particular qualities are especially important for children with autism, and the benefits of pet ownership to autistic children are well recognised.
- Teaches the circle of life – although we don’t like to think about it, our pets won’t be with us forever. This passage of life and death teaches children a valuable lesson and helps prepare them for the future.
If you have any points to add to our list, please get in touch and let us know! Feel free to comment here or email me directly: [email protected]
Written by Hannah Dyball