Anyone who has both pets and children at home will know just how much kids love having a cat to cuddle, a dog to play with or even a hamster to take care of.

But now research has shown that having pets not only provides our youngsters with enjoyment but it also makes our children healthier, happier and gives them a greater sense of responsibility.

Experts have found that a four-legged friend can help little ones learn about companionship, playing together and how to deal with times of trouble or illness.

What's more, research has shown that learning how to care for a pet and understanding the responsibility involved is invaluable for children's development. For instance, getting your youngsters involved in tasks such as feeding your moggie their cat food or grooming your dog can help teach them how to be responsible for something or someone else.

"Having a dog, cat, or small animal around the house really does offer children security and friendship," said Mark Singleton of, the pet classifieds and advice website that was behind the research.

"Pets can also help calm aggressive or overly active children, we've found. There are huge rewards to be had for a young person teaching their dog a new trick or earning the trust of their new pet cat."

Indeed, studies have also shown how a furry friend can provide kids with a sense of security and help with separation anxiety during those times when parents, siblings or friends aren't around, which can help them to build confidence in a variety of situations.

"A pet in the family is a genuine recipe for success if both parents and children treat it with care and responsibility," Mr Singleton added.

"Both parents and children can benefit from having a pet; they are a source of stimulation for brain and body, and a huge source of happiness."

Written by: Hannah