“A house is not a home until it has a dog.” ~ Gerald Durrell
Psychologists at Oregon State University found enhanced social skills in children taught to care for a puppy and that they become more cooperative and sharing. While researchers at Warwick University in Coventry found that having a cat or dog at home exposed children to more infections early in life resulting in a stronger immune systems and are less likely to take days off school sick.
Pet Health benefits for Children
Antibody levels in children from pet owning families have been found to be significantly more stable research has shown, indicating that they had robust immune systems, which in away supports the so-called “dirty hypothesis”. This suggests that too much cleanliness early in life can leave the immune system weakened later on and is linked to soaring rates of childhood asthma in recent years.
Further studies indicate that children with pets have a lower incidence of allergies. These studies further found that young children exposed to one or more pets actually decreased their allergic reactions to other allergens. The supposition is that given that pets lick the children the bacteria from the pet’s mouth hone the immune system of the child for exposure to future allergens.
However, pets can also pose health risks to children and one of the biggest risks is the roundworm Toxicara canis which infects dogs and can cause anything from stomach ache to eye damage. Nevertheless, the Warwick University study found that despite these dangers three out of 10 children admitted sharing food with their pets while 21% let their pets lick their fingers.
On average pet owning children were found over the course of a year to have an extra nine days at school over those with no pets, something not to tell your children if you are thinking of getting a pet!
Pets improve Social skills in Children and Teach Children Responsibility
Children can learn how to care for others by having a family pet. By taking on responsibility, they learn what it means to care of another. For example, grooming a dog shows the child that there is responsibility involved in taking care of a pet. This in turn strengthens the child’s relationship with the animal who becomes a loyal friend: a friend who is always there to play with and turn to in tough situations.
Emotional Health Thanks to Pets Acceptance and Compassion
A dog or cat is non-judgmental and when a child needs an impartial party for comfort they can turn to their animal. Whereas a child may sometimes find it difficult to be accepted by peers or members of their family which can cause low self esteem to develop. Children and Pets both naturally give love freely with no strings attached except to be nurtured back. Pets love attention paid to them and reward the giver with a like return of warmth. Kindness can also develop because the child has to care for a being that needs him or her to cater to its every need. Without the child, the pet would starve. So, the child learns responsibility and compassion.
Stress and Entertainment
Pets relieve stress, when no one else will listen, a pet will. It is nearly impossible to stroke the soft fur of a dog or a cat and maintain any level of stress. Pets can also be a calming influence to both parents and responsible children. Just watching a cat run around, or a dog chase a stick, can bring families closer together. Everyone gets involved in the care of the animal, so it becomes an integral part of the family. Dogs, cats, gerbils, rabbits, matter what the choice of pet, children often benefit greatly from adding an animal into the family mix.
Socializing and Exercise
Through having a pet a child will have many stories to tell, helping him socialise, so many times we hear children say “I have a rabbit, dog or cat” and the conversation suddenly follows. The pet provides exercise, be it cleaning, walking or play, taking the child outside. A permanent playmate can be on hand at all times for the child who may otherwise sit in front of his computer or television for hours on end.
So get your kid off the couch, bringing a pet into your home, a friend, a playmate and your child will receive and learn love, kindness and responsibility.
About the Author
My name is James, I work for Pets Bureau, a company dedicated to reuniting lost pets with their owners. To find out more visit Pets Bureau.