Is the endless nagging for getting a pet is starting to get into you?
Whether you’ve started to consider getting a pet for your child and you want to make sure it’s the right choice, or you want to say NO and you’re looking for some reasons and backup, we’ve got your back.
Going through this article you’ll learn all you need to know concerning pets and children.
The many benefits of pets at home
Physical benefits of pets for children
- Pets encourage your child to be more active:
Beside playing around the house -especially in the case of dogs, rabbits and sometimes cats- you can also visit animal parks. Even other types of animals will encourage your child to leave their screens to get up and play with their pet!
- Pets reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve immunity
You get extreme pleasure just by watching an animal’s video! Imagine petting, cuddling and playing with one. Pets have a huge relaxing effect which helps in lowering blood pressure, but they also have a secret superpower… They improve your child’s immunity system.
Psychological benefits of pets for children
- Pets help with mental Health
Owning a pet can help protect your child from depression. It can also ease their anxiety.
- Pets “make you feel good”
Have you heard of therapy pets? These are well-trained pets that can especially help children and senior people. According to VCA animals “The purpose of pet therapy is to help people cope with health or emotional problems and make them feel good.”
Developmental benefits of pets for children
- Pets improve school performance:
Do you remember organizing your toys to play the role of a teacher? Pets work the same way except they are a living being which is more realistic. When your child teaches the pet they are basically studying!
- Pets improve your child’s emotional development & enhance their social skills
A recent study has found that children who have a dog interact 40% better with their peers than those who don’t own a dog. They also seem to be more empathetic and considerate.
The risks of owning a pet
Children and pets can be a bit unpredictable. Other than the health concerns you might have (which we’ll be discussing further) you should be more careful about having a pet around a younger than 5 years old child.
Your kid might tug on your pet’s tail which might cause it to bite; a baby might swallow a pet’s toy; your pet might eat from your kid’s plate… However, all of these incidents can be avoided easily, if you’re watching over them.
Are you risking your child’s health by getting them a pet?
Do pets carry diseases and infections? Yes! HOWEVER, if you keep a hygienic environment and provide the pet with all of its vaccines, and you make sure your child understands the importance of hygiene around pets then no need to worry.
How to choose the right pet
So you’ve decided to venture and accept the responsibility of a pet. Here’s how to choose the right pet:
- Consider the costs: Having a pet is like adding a new member to your family. You need to calculate how much food it might need, its medicine, vet’s visits and other expenses such as litter & toys.
- Consider the time & the amount of care: How much time you have can also affect the type of animal you end up getting. A fish in comparison to a dog doesn’t need attention, just feed it and clean the bowl.
- Consider where you live: A big house will allow you to choose more freely, but you can still own a pet if you live in a small apartment. Just pick a smaller breed of dogs, cats, or any type of small pets such as hamsters, birds, or fish.
- Consider your child’s age: Children younger than 5 years old shouldn’t own any types of reptiles (turtles – lizards…) poultries (chickens) or amphibians (frogs). These can spread serious infections. Other types of pets are okay under supervision.
Children older than that only need you to set some rules and they’re good to go.
- Consider the pet itself: Animals have different personalities; some pets are really good with children some aren’t. You also need to consider the animal’s age and its medical records. Vets can be a huge help; consider consulting one.
Sidenote: Pets adoption is always a good idea. You’ll save a life & it’ll cost you less money, a win-win situation, right?
If you’re not ready to get them a pet
If you think getting a pet is too much but still you want to make your child happy, try one of these tips:
- A toy pet
- Digital pets, but you have to monitor their screen time
- Books about animals, and bedtime stories about pets: you can check some of our publications here.
- Pet themed clothes
- Foster a pet for a while: you can “pet” sit a friend’s animal
- If your child is old enough, encourage them to volunteer in a shelters
- Many shelters also have an open day to raise funds and awareness. Make constant trips to shelters.
In the end, as a pet owner, I feel like I should say this. Some families rush into fulfilling their child’s nagging without thinking this through, and they end up throwing the pet into the streets or dumping it in a shelter forgetting that this living soul has gotten used to them and doesn’t know how to survive on its own. I want to thank you for taking the time to really search this through and learning all about pets and children.
Let us know what your major concern is when it comes to pets in the comments below!
This article was written by Farah Salaheddin, an educational content creator.