Why are kids and pets are such a good combination?
Caring for a family pet teaches kids how to be compassionate and responsible. Pets also provide companionship, loyalty and a trusted ear to talk to about childhood issues. Keeping a beloved pet in the house also boosts cognitive, emotional, physical and social development, says Parents magazine.
Gail F. Melson, PhD is professor emeritus of developmental studies at Purdue University. She notes that more than 90 percent of kids have at least one pet during their childhood. Nearly half of all American babies are born to families that already have one or more pets.
Pets generally improve the family dynamic, fostering empathy, accountability and trust. The type of pet isn’t necessarily imperative to childhood development. Whether a chinchilla or a chihuahua, the mere fact of pet ownership is a good thing that keeps on giving.
Pets can even protect children from allergies. If that sounds off the wall to you, here’s an explanation offered by Dennis Ownby, MD. The Augusta-based pediatrician says that children who are exposed to two or more cats, dogs and other furry friends between birth and age seven are far less likely to develop allergies than children who have no animal pets in the family home.
Rescue pets vs. puppy mills
Adopting a dog or cat from a local animal shelter is a win-win situation, says Country Living magazine. When you spare a life and adopt a new best friend, the benefits are amazing for everyone involved. Unfortunately, only around 30 percent of shelter animals are lucky enough to be adopted.
Experts say not to worry if you don’t fall in love the first time you visit your local animal shelter. When you consider that adopting a pet begins a lifelong commitment, you understand why it’s important to choose your new pet wisely. Shelter pets are generally far more affordable than pets obtained from pricey puppy mills.
Adopting an older pet from a shelter is a good idea, too. The reason is because older pets tend to be calmer and more relaxed around small children. This is not always the case, however, so be sure to learn about any potential pet’s personality and demeanor before loading them into the back of your car and taking them home to live with your family. Does your car even have ample space for you to fit your family in it with a new pet? Cars like the your Jeep Cherokee have ample space for pets behind the rear seats that you can cage off and avoid unnecessary interactions between children and animals while you are driving.
Best pets for families with kids
The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association reminds us that more money is spent on pets than on any other childhood amusement, including candy and toys. According to the APPMA, the toy biz rakes in a mere $23 billion and the candy industry brings in around $24 billion annually.
Compare that to the $38 billion or so earned by the pet and pet products industry, and you can see why pets are at the top of the list of childhood amusements. The price people pay for pets and pet products has more than doubled in the past decade, and that number is bound to go up and up and up.
Adopt a pet, and you’re bound to see wonderful changes in your kid’s confidence and compassion levels.
Article provided to The Neat Things in Life by Courtney Johnston. She is a child minder who has two almost grown kids of her own. She enjoys writing for parenting / lifestyle blogs about raising kids and family life.