family, parenting, pet, reading, school age

“Can We Get a Dog??” The Benefits of Pet Ownership

Getting a pet can be a big decision for a family. Pets can enrich children’s lives, but they can also create havoc in the household. I decided to look into the benefits of pet ownership for children and their families.

What can pets teach kids???

Owning a pet can teach your kids responsibility. They can feed, walk, or bath the pet. The parent may take on most of pet care chores but even a toddler can be an assistant at times. Learning these skills of nurturing an animal teaches kindness and patience.

kid reading to dogResearch shows that kids with pets have higher self-esteem. Why? Pets love you unconditionally. They are always there to play with you or listen. Studies even show that children with pets are better readers. Kids that are reluctant to read can benefit from reading to a loyal, non-judgmental pet such as a dog to improve their confidence. (In fact, many library programs offer a reading hour with a well-trained dog).

Health Benefits to Pet ownership

There are also health benefits to owning a pet. Studies say that owning a dog in the first year of a child’s life can reduce the incidence of asthma and eczema. The theory is that dogs can carry around germs at times. These germs are introduced to your child’s immune system which boosts its immune function. A study done in 2012 showed that children who lived with dogs had less frequent ear infections and respiratory problems their first year of life.

kids walking dogAnother benefit is that petting a furry animal can lower stress levels. In adults, studies show that pets can reduce blood pressure and lower risk of a heart attack. Dogs can help you get more exercise since they enjoy walks. Pets can also help decrease depression and help you to be more social.

What should I think about before getting a pet

Getting a pet is a big decision. You and your family should think about a few things before making the decision. Do you have time to care for the pet? How large will the pet get and how much exercise will it need? How long will the pet live? How much will veterinary care cost?

It’s also important to pick the right pet based on who is living in your house. Some pets can carry germs that can make people sick. Certain people are at risk for serious illness: young children, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and senior citizens. The Center for Disease Control recommends that kids under age 5 should not have certain pets like turtles, snakes, lizards, frogs, or chickens. These animals can carry a bacterium called Salmonella which can cause serious illness. Pregnant women should be cautious around cats. Cats can carry a parasite called toxoplasmosis that can cause birth defects. Transmission usually occurs when the cat liter is being changed. Of course, if anyone at home has an allergy to a pet then you should factor that into your decision.

Choosing a Pet

Here’s some information to think about. Happy pet finding!!!

Dogs: In general, mixed breeds are more easygoing than purebreds. Larger dogs may be more tolerant of a toddler’s rough play than smaller dogs. But, every dog is different so make sure you spend some time with your potential dog before you bring them home.

Cats: Cats will probably not tolerate any aggressive play from younger kids. Certain cats are considered more kid friendly so make sure you do your research.

goldfishFish: The perfect starter pet. Choose a low maintenance fish like a goldfish. The fish won’t greet you at the door, but it is a good introduction to care of a pet.

Guinea Pigs: A good pet for kids older than 5. They require low upkeep, you can cuddle with them, and they rarely bite. Of course, you should always supervise your child when they are playing with pets.

ParakeetBirds: If you think that your toddler will be too aggressive with an animal they can grab then consider a bird that will be safe in a cage. Parakeets make fun family pets. They may even learn a few words from your child. Just make sure to keep the cage out of reach when you are not around and remind your little ones to keep their fingers out of the cage.

Have fun!!

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