Woof! Meow! Squeak! Pets come in all shapes and sizes. If you are a pet owner or know one, you know how excitable we are when it comes to our pets! They’re furry, purry, and most of all—family. But when your Golden Retriever or Calico comes to snuggle up to you on the couch, did you know that they’re also providing a host of benefits? It’s true, that hyper dog that occasionally messes on the carpet is actually good for your heart! And if your kiddos have been begging for a furry friend, it might just be one of the best decisions you make for their physical and mental health.
The Benefits of Owning a Pet
From what feels like the beginning of time, dogs have been referred to as “man’s best friend.” It’s hard to argue with history! Dogs are a fantastic companion for humans, and their unconditional love and excitement for life makes our lives brighter. They have evolved with time to become acutely attuned to human emotions. If you ever feel like your dog is listening to you, chances are, they are. While dogs understand words relatively well, they are excellent at reading our body language, gestures, and understanding tone of voice.
Dogs are an excellent choice for a companion, but cats are definitely another good choice. Both animals can reduce stress, ease loneliness, and increase feelings of happiness. Owning a pet can add real joy and unconditional love into your life.
Any Pet Can Improve Your Health
While dogs and cats are great pets, any furry, feathery, or even scaly friend can make a great pet! If your child is allergic to dogs, consider buying them a rabbit. Birds can also be a great option and add a social component to your life! If your child likes reptiles, snakes, turtles, and lizards make for great exotic companions. Even owning a fish is a great way to help your child feel less lonely.
Studies have shown that:
- Dogs and cats help lower blood pressure for their owners.
- Playing with a dog or cat increases dopamine and serotonin in the brain.
- Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
- Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.
- Regularly walking a dog improves cardiovascular fitness.
- Talking to your pet can relieve stress and increase self-esteem.
- Petting a dog or cat can improve immune function.
Pets Can Influence Behavior
Having a pet is a great way to teach your child about boundaries and how people and animals need their own personal space. Since pets have their own unique quirks and personalities, owning a pet is one way you can teach your child about differences, and how differences make us unique. In addition, pets are imperfect, so they may make a mess, break something, or even get scared! This is a way you can teach your child about accepting mistakes and showing forgiveness.
Pets Can Improve Communication Skills
Pets can help children with social skills, motor skills, and problem-solving through play, interaction, and caregiving. The objective of teaching a dog new tricks is a great way for kids to practice effective and clear communication, patience, and the willingness to learn.
Pets Teach Life Skills
Owning a pet means taking care of another living, breathing creature, which has needs just like us. You can model how to prioritize another creature’s needs by expressing the importance of going home after a long day out of the house to let the dog out. Since animals cannot speak for themselves, it’s up to us to model how to properly care for another animal for our children. Moving forward, you can let your child make the call for when it’s time to let the dog out to teach them discipline.
Pets Teach About Grief
When the sad time comes to put down an animal or an animal passes away, it can be a hard thing to accept. While death is a natural part of life, losing an animal you were close to is always heartbreaking. Once the pain has subsided, it can be a good time to gently speak to your children about death, grief, and losing someone you love. While it never gets easier, grief is a powerful life lesson.
Pets Can Be Your Child’s New Best Friend
Owning a pet is a wonderful way to teach your children about responsibility, patience, empathy, forgiveness, and so much more. If you’re thinking about taking the leap to get a dog, cat, or other pet for your child, make sure you’re aware of the responsibilities that come with pet ownership–to ensure your pet is happy, healthy, and lives a long life. You may just find your child’s new best friend.