We have all heard of the benefit of having a pet for companionship, especially with the elderly. Now, research shows there may be a medical benefit for kids to be around pets, especially babies and toddlers.
Start Pet Ownership Early
According to an article in the journal Pediatrics, babies grow up to be healthier if they have a pet in their first year. Specific research indicated that owning a dog reduces their incidents of respiratory infections. They also have 44 percent fewer ear infections and needed fewer antibiotics.
Medical experts believe that it stimulates their immune system to fight off infections and illnesses. When they do get sick, their immune system works better and they require fewer medications.
Dogs vs. Cats
While research indicates that households with cats also saw improvements, they were not as strong as with dogs. In addition, the healthiest kids were among those where the dogs went outside often. Speculation about this data suggests that the more time a dog spent outside, the more dirt was in the fur. This triggered the child’s immune system more strongly than a dog that stayed inside.
Other Health Benefits
Numerous studies have been done on the effects of pets on people, and they have found many health benefits. People who own a pet have heart rates that change more than people who don’t own pets; their heart rates are therefore more adaptable.
Owning a pet can also be calming in a stressful situation. Studies show that having a dog or cat can actually lower blood pressure in adults, so it stands to reason that it can be helpful for kids in stressful situations, such as parental divorce or moving to a new city.
It can also boost self-esteem, which is important as children get older. They feel more confident and less lonely than kids without pets. Studies show they are more extroverted when they have their own pet.
Another benefit of having a pet is that it can help prevent depression. Whether it is related to moving or being bullied or some other traumatic event in their lives, more children today suffer from depression. However, having a pet can lower that risk and help them deal with unpleasant circumstances.
Being responsible for a pet can actually make a child feel good, even if they have to be reminded to feed their cat or take the dog for a walk. Responsibility gives a child confidence in their abilities, which makes them more likely to try new things.
Allowing your child to have a dog, cat, or other pet can be beneficial to them socially, emotionally, and now it appears, even physically. While not all research that has been done is conclusive or can even state why they have reached their conclusions, there is no doubt that children, like all people, benefit from having a pet in the home. Next time your child asks for a pet, you might want to think twice before saying no.
How Pets Can Make Your Kids Healthier