There was one family that used to have a dog. It lasted until their first child was born. And the reason they gave away one of their valuable members of the family is that they didn’t want their baby to be exposed to dog fur, dust, and dirt.
Well, in recent years this became a myth.
In this article, we will reveal 29 health benefits of living with pets. We will discuss some myths, look into reasons why pets are good for kids, and discover some advantages of having a pet.
Growing up together | Are pets good or bad for babies’ immune systems?
It was a common belief in the past that pets, especially dogs, bring lots of dust and dirt into the house. Then the baby gets exposed to all bacteria and nasty microbes that are carried in the fur. As the result, it may have an impact on a child’s health.
In fact, this myth didn’t last long and has proven to be quite controversial.
Living with pets, in particular, dogs can help protect babies from a range of illnesses in their first three months and onwards.
One of the greatest benefits of owning pets has been revealed in a study reported at the 2020 American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology meeting. It touched on the important topic of why families should have a dog. “The study showed that owning a dog while pregnant could positively influence a child’s immune system into adolescence.”
In addition, living with pets may lower the baby’s risk of health problems, such as different types of allergies and asthma.
Did you know?
According to EAACI, 2016 (The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology) allergy is the most common chronic disease in Europe. Up to 20% of patients with allergies struggle daily with the fear of a possible asthma attack, anaphylactic shock, or even death from an allergic reaction.
According to Pawankar R, et al, 2013, it is estimated by the World Health Organisation that 300 million individuals have asthma worldwide and that with current rising trends this will reach 400 million by 2025. Approximately 250,000 people die prematurely each year from asthma; almost all these deaths are avoidable.
But how exactly having a pet can increase the immune system of your child and carry it all the way through into adolescence?
The key is found in immunoglobulin E (IgE) which level has been found 28.8% lower in children with prenatal pet exposure compared with children whose mothers had no pet.
In addition, dog owners appeared to have 26.7% lower IgE levels. So, children playing with animals that bring a lot of bacteria outside the home is a good thing for your child because it has a direct impact on their early microbiome (gut bacteria). And this is what drives the immune system to mature and avoid developing allergies.
The pet becomes a family member
Your child may not like walking the dog every morning, collecting their poo, or cleaning their house, BUT your baby will consider your pet a family member. Soon enough you will start hearing that your pet should go with you on a vacation, or that you need to rush home because your child misses them.
It is an incredible feeling of belonging and having somebody who can comfort you at any time is priceless.
The pet impacts the emotional development of your child
Every child is different. You may notice some kids may spend days playing with their pets, others wouldn’t spend as much time. Regardless of how much time your child spends together with their pet, they build that fantastic unbreakable bond. Inevitably, pets and kids become attached at the hip.
One of the most important benefits of having a pet is that they help your child cope with emotional stress better and get comfort whenever they need it from their companion. No matter what mood your child is in, they will always get that safe and secure feeling from their pet.
Pets also help a lot with preventing anxieties if any.
Build an understanding of why pets are important in our life
The pet owner eventually builds an understanding of how important animals are in our life. This is where the whole interest in visiting farms, wildlife, sanctuaries, and volunteering to participate in saving animals appears.
Once you have a pet, especially a dog, you build contact with them.
Living with pets also makes an impact on how we treat animals, insects, reptiles, fish, and birds all around us. You may observe worms coming out on a rainy day in your garden, spiders building their webs, and bees working hard inside the flowers you have planted. You may even build a birdhouse or a feeder.
You learn how to treat the animal right
While growing pets at home you learn how to treat the animal right. Also, your children get a concept of what they should be aware of when they are with an animal.
Have you noticed people’s reactions when you walk a dog on the street? As a dog owner, I happen to observe these reactions quite often. Once we pass a man, a child, or a family with our dog lab, we can instantly feel the tension, where adults may restrict their emotions whilst kids may show them better. This is where we know that there is a cultural aspect or a built-in fear toward animals.
And then there are kids that show a lot of interest towards the dog, ask to stroke it, or start playing with it immediately. These are either very little kids who did not develop any fear yet or kids that have family pets in their homes.
The understanding of how to treat a pet and not fear that it can bite you is quite important in every child’s upbringing. Living with pets allows your child to feel comfortable playing around or with any pet and doesn’t let them get a trauma from being scratched by a cat, for example.
Kids that have a pet learn a few important lessons:
- You should not fear the animal;
- Understand the animal’s basic reactions, such as being moody, aggressive, or pleased by their actions;
- Always ask a pet owner for permission and take extra care when dealing with them for the first time;
- Never harm an animal.
Your child learns responsibility
Regardless of your child’s age, they will eventually learn how to clean the cage, collect the poo, feed them, brush them, walk them, wash them, and take care of them when they are sick or cold. All of this will give your child a sense of achievement and a feeling of how important their role in the family is.
It is a great routine to ask your child to give their pet some food before starting dinner. This little task increases your child’s confidence.
One of the best reasons why every family should have a pet is that children tend to develop empathy for others much quicker.
Your pet always protects you
Speaking of dogs, loyalty and commitment are all that they care about.
Once you have got the pup in the house, it will always try to protect you. This is one of the major benefits of pets.
The worst game that we can play at home is hide-and-seek because, first of all, our lab always shows where everyone hides, and secondly, if he lost the sight of our child, he goes mad thinking that he has lost his mate forever.
All these times, when your pet comes to you to comfort, or checks on you after you fell down or slipped, are priceless. You know that they are always there for you.
Animals help and boost the learning
Living with pets helps children with their learning.
Some educational institutions have special pet days or pet corners to assist kids with learning skills. Some of them offer specially trained Autism assistance dogs, and some schools have an agreement to invite specially trained dogs for kids with special needs.
Create a healthy lifestyle
Pets need routine and so are we. Every pet has a different need. Dogs encourage family members to have daily walks, cats request a playtime, and bunnies may have an impact on your diet making it more veggie and fruity. As the result, your child gets more playful and spends more time outdoors running.
Pets help kids socialize
Every little child love pets. If you have got a pet at home, you get more attention. Kids will start asking questions about their little companion, and permission to play with them, and as the result, they will be building more connections by engaging with one another.
Naturally, pets give more confidence to a child when interacting with their little friends.
Pets provide a soothing effect
An undeniable fact is that pets calm. They soothe, they comfort, they care, and love.
When I asked my son how he thinks other kids can benefit from having a pet, he said that he loves cuddling, sleeping, or simply lying down with his dog Maxie; playing, having fun, or doing nothing. Also, Max likes licking and kissing a lot.
This is one of the greatest things that kids can experience when living with pets.
Pets reduce loneliness
It is a different feeling when you come home and know that there is always someone waiting for you. Pets reduce loneliness whether it is a child or an adult. They are great companions, and some research shows that pets teach people how to be more socially engaged, which is so important in children’s life.
Your child learns about their pet’s needs, anatomy, and circle of life
Obviously, once you have got a pet, some rules come to an action. Some animals can not be touched this way or another. Your kids start to learn how different animals behave within the environment, what they need, what they like and dislike. Not only that, but children get a healthy understanding of evolution, get an idea of what carnivores and herbivores are, as well as the perception of a life cycle.
So, to recap:
Children raised in families with pets are more likely to
- have a better general health
- be more obedient
- be more physically active
- be less moody
- have fewer behavior problems
- have fewer learning problems
How positively do pets affect your child?
- They improve overall mental and emotional health
- They improve coping skills
- They enhance cognitive abilities
- They enhance learning abilities
- They develop self-esteem
- They improve physical health
- They strengthen the immune system and response
- They reduce stress, discomfort, anxiety, loneliness
- They engage in social activities
- They teach you life’s basics
Remember: Kids do not fear. We are the ones who instill uncertainty, insecurities, or worries. If you happen to be scared of any sort of pet or even get a feeling of disgust, e.g. spiders, snakes, or any sort of reptiles, please do not pass this feeling to your child. Find a person who could give the right perspective instead.
Enjoy living with pets and let us know what your favorite part of owning a pet is!
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