Kids and pets go together like peanut butter and jelly. Unless you’re allergic to peanut butter, then use a better analogy. Pets offer children companionship, love, and security while teaching them important life lessons such as empathy, responsibility, and respect for all living creatures. But, the benefits of pets apparently aren’t just emotional, they are health related too! Studies have shown that children who live in homes with pets are less likely to develop allergies and asthma than those who do not. One theory is that exposure to pet dander and other allergens early in life helps to build up immunity. Another possibility is that pets help to keep dust mites and other indoor allergens under control. Either way, there is no doubt that having a furry friend around can be good for your child's health!
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that infants who lived in homes with dogs had fewer respiratory infections than those in pet-free homes. In fact, kids in homes with dogs were 31% less likely to develop ear infections and 34% less likely to require antibiotics compared to non-dog households. Other research has shown that having a pet can help reduce stress levels in children and promote positive social interactions. Stress can often effect other aspects of a child’s health, so having a pet around the house can be more relaxing for you and your child!
If we’ve convinced you to get a pet though, there are a few things to keep in mind:
First, if anyone in your family has severe allergies or asthma, it is best to choose a hypoallergenic breed such as a Bichon Frise or Poodle.
Second, even non-hypoallergenic breeds can cause problems for some people, so always introduce your child to the animal gradually and watch for any signs of allergic reactions. If your child is blowing up with hives then that’s probably not the right dog for you.
Finally, be sure to keep your pet well-groomed and free of fleas; not only does that keep the dog healthy and happy, but otherwise you may end up with an infestation of unwanted houseguests!
There are countless benefits of kids owning pets: increased physical activity (whether it’s from playing fetch with the dog or chasing after the cat), improved self-esteem (from receiving unconditional love from a nonjudgmental companion), and enhanced cognitive development (from learning how to communicate effectively with another creature). So, if you’re considering adding a furry friend to your family, know that you’re not only getting a loyal companion—you’re also giving your child a better chance at a healthy life!