I may not have a psych degree, or be any sort of animal expert, but I personally believe kids need pets. And vice versa.
That’s right, pets need kids.
(Cue: Awwwwwwwww) Is there anything cuter than a picture of a baby snuggling up to a puppy? I mean, COME ON. The cuteness factor ALONE I’m sure has made many parents run out to buy their babies a furry friend.
I grew up with dogs my entire life. My family had small dogs, big dogs and some in between. We had purebreds, rescues, and mutts. Although I am partial to dogs, I realize the benefits of many pets in a household with growing children.
A study shows children who live with dogs and cats are less likely to develop allergies to those animals later in life, but only if the pet is under the same roof while the child is still an infant.
This is super cool, and along the same lines as the new peanut allergy findings, exposure when very young can help the body produce immunity to certain allergens. Restricting your children’s exposure to allergens may be actually CAUSING the allergy. This does not apply to families that have previous allergies in their family an of COURSE consult your doctor before giving your child a spoonful of peanut butter if you, yourself, are allergic or have members who are.
But for the general public having babies, exposure to allergens is actually a good thing.
And that means pets.
But it’s not just about the allergies. There’s a real bond that can develop between kids and pets. Kids feel safe around their family pet. They’ll sit and listen to them, they’ll play with them at a moment’s notice, they show affection and constant love. There is no better friend than a pet. In tough times, like divorce, a big move, or any sort of family instability, studies have shown kids are very likely to confide in their pet, creating an amazing bond.
Kids and pets. Who would’ve thought the pairing would have such a positive impact?
Also, pets can help protect your infants against diseases. It’s not entirely clear, but researchers think that exposure to pet dander, as well as the microbes that pets carry into the home from outdoors, could prime babies’ still-developing immune systems and train them early to fend off assaults from common allergens and bugs, such as from animals or other bacteria and viruses.
Oh and did I mention that pets are just awesome? And not just dogs and cats. One of my best friends growing up had a bunny named Ouija. This black and white bunny was the coolest and I always loved visiting her house so we could play. The bond between this bunny and my childhood friend was almost tangible.
Of course, we all know that children begging for a pet is not necessarily a reason to get one. The responsibility falls to the parent to take care of the pet or constantly remind their kids to take care of their pet. But even so, the lessons of responsibility are there and are important at any age.
Alexandra Sleightholm, owner of Care of the Dog, a Dog Walking Business in Toronto, says:
“I can’t say enough about how positive it is for kids to grow up around dogs. It teaches them empathy, nurturing and responsibility. However, this wonderful bond can often turn into a dangerous one if parents and kids aren’t aware of what certain dog behaviours actually mean.
Stress signals from dogs are often overlooked, as many people don’t know that something like a simple blink of the eyes is actually one of these signs. Some of the most common signals are yawning, blinking, lip licking, getting up to leave a situation, and the most obvious would be growling or biting. Most dogs start with the less obvious signals and work their way up. Though, some dogs will go from a simple lip lick and jump straight to growling. That’s why it is so important for parents and kids to be aware of these subtle behaviours.
That being said, there is no bond like the bond between a child and their dog. With a little bit of dog behaviour knowledge, you can make sure that bond stays strong for years to come.
To get more help with this, contact a positive-reinforcement dog trainer in your area.”
Don’t forget about the financial commitment as well.
Dogs and cats, depending on their health and, well, demeanour, can really take a toll on your wallet. I highly recommend insurance with most pets. I can tell you from experience with our dog, Tucker, insurance saved us thousands of dollars. He broke his leg, got lacerations on his foot, swallowed an entire pork roast (with the webbing), has chronic ear infections, hip dysplasia, and he’s allergic to bees. And I freaking LOVE HIM. Tucker was here first, before all three of my kid and although he’s been knocked down the totem pole three times, there is always a special place in my heart for him. He’s so awesome.
There are as many different types of pets as there are types of families. If you’re looking for a pet for your child, know that you can start with something as small as a goldfish or as large as a cow (ok, maybe not a cow if you’re not on a farm)…but explore your options. Pets bring health and happiness into your home no matter their size.
Check out these unique pets!
Do you have any pets at home? Do you think the bond with kids and pets is awesome? How have pets impacted your life? Or your kids lives? Let me know in the comments below!