All kids love animals. Go on a quick safari through your child’s bedroom and count how many stuffed animal toys are lined up on the bed. Take a look in your kid’s storybooks and be reminded just how densely populated they are with imaginary critters. Note how many articles of clothing are decorated with animals – from frogs to pandas! So why not get a live animal as a pet? Let’s talk about just seven of the benefits a family pet can bestow on your child and the whole family.
- Sheer Happiness
A pet can bring you enough joy and happiness to entirely overcome any negative effects of pet ownership. Think about those two adorable fluffy kittens you are thinking of adopting. When they have grown into rambunctious teenage cats who have torn up the living room couch and woken you up at 5:30 a.m. most mornings, you will still enjoy and love them.
- Teaching Responsibility
Whichever kind of pet you have, it comes with needs related to its care. Animals have to be fed, a dog needs to be walked, a cat’s litter box must be cleaned. If your child asks for a pet, talk with them about daily care and the permanency of ownership. When the “newness” wears off, will they understand that the animal will still need looking after?
- Lessons in Empathy
Kids can learn a lot about empathy and kindness from associating with a pet. Animals don’t put up with maltreatment, so if your kid wants the family pet to like them, they have to respect the animal and be kind to it. A pet will teach impulse control – a pet won’t like your child if they are always grabbing at it. Interacting with a pet will also teach a child about boundaries. For example, they’ll learn that the pet should not be bothered when eating and sleeping.
- Encouraging Activity
Having a family dog is a great way to get your child outdoors and away from their digital life. Think of the high energy play between your child and a dog. Even playing with an indoor cat will encourage a more active lifestyle.
- Reducing Anxiety
Kids with pets worry less and are more relaxed because there’s a pet at home providing comfort and emotional support. Self-esteem gets a big boost from a pet in the house who gives you unconditional love, becomes a cuddle buddy during nap time, adores you no matter what, and comes running every time you come home.
- Promoting Health
Your child’s immune system may be strengthened by coming into daily contact with animals. Research shows that children who live in homes with a dog tend to have fewer ear and respiratory tract infections.
- Coping with Bereavement
Most animals don’t live as long as humans, and one of the toughest aspects of having a family pet is when the inevitable happens. Whether it’s a goldfish, a hamster, or the family dog, the loss of a pet is hard but it can provide one of the most valuable lessons a child can learn. When a pet passes away, a child will learn about the grieving process.
Having a pet adds a whole other dimension to your family life. You and your child will have a nonhuman to care for, play with, and love. Whether it’s a dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig, or hamster, there are so many wonderful benefits to bringing a pet into your family.
If your family lives in or near Columbia, SC and you have a pet emergency, don’t hesitate to bring your family pet to CVETS for the best in emergency care.