While adopting a pet is a big decision that requires careful consideration, the rewards are too numerous to mention – but I'll try.
Parents will ultimately be responsible for the pet's health but once a commitment is made the benefits and positive experiences of a growing relationship between pets and children will be timeless, honoured and immeasurable.
When I was very young, I had a cat who brought me countless days of comfort and playfulness. These memories never fade; they are rich with appreciation and fondness of our time together.
Pets are empathetic to our needs. They somehow know when we are out of sorts or deep in thought. And just as much as people want love, care and understanding, animals need these reassurances too.
Sometimes you just need the comfort of someone beside you without having to say a word.
Emotional, Physical and Mental Benefits
Studies reveal that children who have pets lead healthier and happier lives.
Pets protect children against respiratory infections resulting in fewer runny noses, sleepless nights and trips to the doctor.
Having a dog or cat in your home, children are less likely to experience common allergies or eczema.
A child's physical, social, emotional and cognitive development are encouraged by interaction with a family pet.
Children who learn how to nurture and take care of pets grow up to be responsible and kind caregivers.
Pets can facilitate various aspects of emotional development, such as, self-esteem and a sense of responsibility with daily feeding, taking the dog for a walk, grooming, etc.
Pets help us to heal emotionally, physically, and mentally. Scientists state that cats and dogs have a biochemical impact on their owners' body chemistry, providing help to fight disease and assist in coping with chronic conditions.
Walking a dog is a great way to spend quality time with your family not to mention reaping the benefits of a healthy, outdoor routine.
Taking care of a dog often leads to increased physical activity and facilitates the development of social contacts, which may enhance both physiological and psychological human health.
Children are more likely to approach and interact with another child who is playing with a pet. A pet can become a catalyst between a less socially outgoing child and other potential playmates.
A special bond is established between a pet and a child, which is non-judgmental and loyal from the pet's perspective and a sense of comfort and joy from a child's perspective.
“Positive relationships with pets can aid in the development of trusting relationships with others. A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy,” says The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Benefits for Adults
Did you know that petting your cat or dog can reduce your stress and anxiety therefore lowering your blood pressure?
About 4,500 adults took part in a scientific study where researchers discovered that cat ownership was related to a 40% lower risk of suffering a heart attack.
A psychologist from Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland stated in the ‘British Journal of Health Psychology’ that dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol and suffer fewer minor ailments and serious medical problems.
Studies show that 55% of people are more relaxed after spending time with their pets and 44% are less worried about specific problems such as job security and finance.
25% of dog owners know their dog is their best friend while 1 in 6 women said they confided their deepest thoughts only to their pets.
Physicians have been known to recommend “pet prescriptions” to their patients who are alone and in need of companionship. A family pet can motivate patients to put their best foot forward when dealing with a serious illness.
People who walk dogs are more consistent about regular exercise and show increased improvement in fitness than people who walk with a human companion. Walking speed among dog walkers increased by 28% compared with a 4% increase among human walkers.
If you're looking to incorporate exercise into your family's daily routine, a University of Missouri-Columbia study showed that people could lose an average of 14 pounds in one year just by walking a dog 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week! Now that’s incentive!
For additional information, Diligencia Investigative Reporting recommends the following article:
Psychology Today Canada – Why Kids with Pets are Better Off
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