Are your children asking for their very own puppy or kitten? A family pet can be a wonderful addition to your home. The idea is heartwarming and it’s easy to imagine the fun, family time spent with your new pet.
And while pets provide many benefits to your children, there are also some cons to consider. So, before you bring home any animals, read this to decide if you and your child are ready for a pet.
Why Your Child Should Have a Pet
Have you noticed that your child is naturally drawn to animals? For some children, they’re absolutely magical. If that’s the case for your child, having a pet can support their growth and development.
Perhaps pets are new for your child, but maybe you grew up with them and are very comfortable around animals.
This is something you can pass onto and teach to your child. Here are seven reasons why your child should have a pet.
1. Children with Pets are More Active
Now, if you have a bird or reptile, your child probably won’t be much more active. But if you have a cat or dog, your child has many more opportunities to play, walk and even run with his or her pet.
Not only will your child move more, but they’ll also engage in healthy playtime, which is always a much-needed break from screen time and technology.
2. Children with Pets Are Less Likely to Become Overweight or Obese
When it comes to dogs, children are encouraged to get up and get moving. And according to research at the Deakin University Melbourne, children have a 50% less chance of becoming overweight and obese.
It’s safe to say that having an active pet can lead to a healthier lifestyle for your child.
3. Children with Pets Learn How to Be Responsible
Now, it’s important to remember that if your child is under the age of 10, he or she might not be able to handle the full responsibility of a pet. It all depends on their maturity level. However, you can give them simple tasks and chores so that they can become the pet’s part-time caretaker, too.
Simple activities like feeding, grooming, walking, and cleaning are all do-able for children. Keeping a reward chart in their bedroom or on the refrigerator can help to keep children accountable, on track and motivated to be responsible pet owners.
These accomplishments are something they’ll be very proud of, too.
4. Children with Pets Have Strong Immune Systems
According to studies from the University of Warwick, England, children who have pets could be less susceptible to colds and infections.
Children who play with dirt come into contact with beneficial bacteria that increases the body’s immunity. Similarly, children with pets can also boost their body’s natural defense mechanisms.
5. Children with Pets Develop Empathy
Animals are sentient beings and they can teach your child a thing or two about empathy. By spending time with the family pet, your child can observe animal behavior and feelings, and learn to respond with compassion and love.
6. Children with Pets Learn to Love and to Be Unselfish
Not only do pets teach children how to be empathetic, but they also help children love unconditionally. A pet may or may not be able to express their affection, and a child may be called on to show love even if they don’t receive it in return.
Other times, your child may have to take a break from playing their favorite game to take care of the family’s dog or cat. This teaches children to place the needs of others before their own.
7. Children with Pets Have Lower Stress Levels
If space and cleanliness permits, it’s a good idea to let your child and pet sleep in the same room, or even the same bed. It helps to reduce a child’s stress levels by increasing the levels of feel-good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin.
Why Your Child Shouldn’t Have Pets
Having a pet can benefit your child’s physical, emotional and psychological well-being. However, as a responsible parent, it’s important to consider some of the cons, too. Here are five common drawbacks to having a pet for your child.
1. Are You Ready for Another Child?
Even if your child loves the new pet like crazy, most of the responsibility will fall on your shoulders. Are you ready for this? It’s important to think about the demands of work, family and everything else before adding a pet to the mix.
Having enough time and energy for the new pet is crucial for their wellbeing. Will they be cooped up inside your home all day? Do you travel a lot? Could your child lose interest quickly?
2. Can You Afford a Pet?
Pets might not need a new school outfit every few months, but in order to have a good life, it’s important that you invest financially in them.
Some of the pet costs include veterinary appointments, food, supplies, fencing (if necessary), grooming and even daycare.
3. Are Your Children Capable of Pet Responsibility?
You can’t expect your child to take care of the pet on his own, but can you expect any help? Depending on the pet, as well as your child’s maturity and developmental level, he or she might not be ready to care for it.
4. Allergy Concerns
Your child may already show sensitivities to foods, plants, dust and/or mold. If you suspect that he or she might also have an allergy to animal fur or dander, try to rule that out before introducing a pet to your home.
Otherwise, they may have to part with the new pet and that can cause a lot of tears.
5. Ticks and Fleas
If you have a dog or cat, the chances of them carrying ticks and/or fleas into your home are pretty high. This can be difficult for everyone involved and if you’re not prepared to deal with that, you might want to avoid certain pets altogether.
Letting your child grow up with his or her own pet is a wonderful way to teach many invaluable lessons to them. But before they start learning, ask yourself if the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to having a pet for your children.