Everyone knows that there are many positives to having a pet as an adult. From alleviating stress to providing much-needed companionship, animals make our lives both richer and healthier. The same is true for children! The benefits of growing up with a pet can improve a kid’s health and development throughout childhood and last into adulthood as well.

For example, this recent study shows that the benefits of having a dog include increased sleep, more outdoor play, and more physical activity for kids of all ages. And, other studies show that having a pet in the family benefits a child’s emotional, social, cognitive, educational, and behavioral development. Let’s take a look at the five major perks a pet can bring to a child’s life. 

Five Benefits of Having a Pet for a Child

1: Less Stress

Childhood can be just as stressful as adult life. Between making good grades, staying on top of extracurricular activities, and handling friendship issues and other social drama, kids have a lot to worry about. Having a pet in the house can help lower a child’s stress levels. However, just having a pet around isn’t enough—the benefits come from interaction. Children who actively spent more time with their pets have lower stress hormone levels than children who did not interact with their pets as much.  

2: More Responsibility

Caring for a pet helps teach children responsibility. If they do not take care of their dog, cat, hamster, or fish, the animal can become hurt, sick, or unhappy. While childcare experts suggest that children under 10 years of age aren’t old enough yet to take care of an animal by themselves, they still get the benefits a pet brings with a little help from the adults or teens in their family. 

3: Greater Self Esteem

Another benefit of growing up with a pet is a boost of self esteem and confidence. Sharing in the responsibility of caring for a pet builds confidence, and being able to “talk” to a pet about their worries and problems can help raise low self esteem. In fact, children often have a closer relationship with their pets than with their siblings, because they can talk about what’s on their mind without any fear of judgment. 

4: Increased Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and feel another person’s feelings. By taking care of a pet, children learn the basics of empathy. Parents, guardians, and older siblings can help a child learn how to treat other living beings by modeling a loving and caring relationship with the family’s pets. 

5: More Movement

Having a pet—especially a dog—provides an opportunity for the entire family to become more active. Research shows that having a dog in the house leads to increased physical activity for kids, which can help prevent childhood obesity. However, cats make kids move just as much, especially if the cat loves to chase balls or play with string toys. 

The Benefits of Growing Up with a Pet in Gilbert, Arizona

Pets are an important part of a healthy, happy community, and Gilbert is no exception. The benefits of having a pet provide a vast array of perks for children as they grow into adults, and we’re here to help your pets thrive. If your child has started to care for their first pet, bring them along to their pet’s next veterinary checkup! Call Anasazi Animal Clinic today at 480-497-0505 to make an appointment.   

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