Families with children are the most likely demographic to own a pet – or two, or more. The benefits of a pet for children are many, including the opportunity to learn the following seven valuable life lessons.
- Responsibility: A pet needs a lot of attention. It has to be provided with food and fresh water every day. Depending on the type of pet, it may need potty time, exercise, grooming, and clean-up. Older children will learn the responsibility of caring for a living creature, and even younger kids can assist with feeding and playtime.
- Trust: It’s easy for a child to fall in love with a pet, and they will learn that this affection is returned in spades. What’s more, the adoration provided by a pet is constant and unconditional. Your child will have a companion that they can always rely on, and this relationship can boost their self-esteem and their ability to trust others.
- Compassion: Caring for a pet means understanding how the animal operates in the world and what its needs are. Looking after a living being teaches children respect, empathy, and compassion. They learn to be kind, to touch gently, and not to disturb the pet when it is eating or sleeping.
- Bereavement: Unfortunately, pets have much shorter lives than humans. When the inevitable happens, and a pet passes on, your child will feel pain. However, even though this is a sad time for the entire family, your child will learn how to cope during a period of grief.
- Physical Activity: Families who own a dog are set up for a lot of fun physical activity. A child can enjoy walks with their canine friend and participate in games of fetch. A pet kitten provides endless hours of playtime chasing a string or a cat toy. Physical activity gets kids away from their digital lives. Moreover, research shows that children growing up in dog-owning homes are more physically active than children who don’t interact with dogs.
- Patience: It takes time for a new pet to become comfortable in its new home. And, in the case of a dog, there is training. Involving your child in the dog’s training sessions will teach your child patience as the dog will not learn its lessons right away.
- Health: The benefits of a pet may extend to those connected with health. Studies have shown that during their first year of life, children from dog-owning homes have fewer respiratory tract and ear infections and allergies than babies that grow up without dogs. It is believed that exposure to microorganisms found in dogs stimulates the immune system.
Is Your Child Ready for a Pet?
Taking an animal into your home should not be done lightly, and the adults in the family bear the ultimate responsibility for taking care of it. Very young children should not be expected to care for pets without assistance. Moreover, they have no understanding of how to handle a pet gently; they’re often overly rough and may end up hurting the animal – or receive an injury themselves if the pet strikes back. That being said, there are so many benefits of a pet that can arise from responsible pet ownership.
If you live in Columbia, SC, and your family pet needs emergency treatment, don’t hesitate to bring them to CVETS. We are a state of the art emergency vet and surgery center. CVETS understands all the benefits of a pet and is dedicated to providing the best care for your family friend.