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Did You Know That Pets Can Help Keep Your Child Healthy?

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When your children are begging for a dog, cat, hamster, goldfish, or to keep whatever followed them home, take a moment and consider before you automatically say no.

Pets can actually help keep kids healthy. Here are a few ways how and reasons why pets can be beneficial for your children.

Physical Health

These days, there’s a lot of talk about childhood obesity and other health problems kids face. Children tend to be more inactive in this modern era of TV, computers, and video games.

Some pets, particularly dogs, can encourage kids to be more active and consequently healthier. If you have a dog, you have a good reason to take the family on hikes and walks. And dogs enjoy playing ball, fetching sticks, and even swimming.

Cats can help kids be more active, also. Playing with a cat can be very fun and entertaining for children. They can run around the house trailing a bit of string and the cat will follow, going after the string. Some cats will even go on walks or hikes with the family. A cat that’s allowed outside can encourage your child to go out, too, to play with the cat or watch it as it goes about its cat business.

Emotional Health

Dogs love to love, and that can be a real boost to a child’s self-esteem and sense of happiness. The non-judgmental nature of a pet can be very comforting for a child who’s having problems in school, with peers, or just having a bad day. Loving, furry interaction is good for both mind and body.

Pets reduce stress, and therefore stress-related illnesses like heart disease and digestive troubles are reduced when people own a pet. Even watching goldfish in a bowl or tank has a calming, soothing effect.

Depression is another disorder that pet ownership can help keep at bay. Both small and large animals offer this benefit. Kids find the presence of animals calming, and their pet is always happy to see them.

Academic Performance

Kids who have pets in the home tend to do better in school, particularly in the language arts. Social skills and speech aptitude are often greater in children who have pets.

Socializing

Animals can help kids socialize. If a child has a tough time talking or interacting with other children, having a pet with him or her can help break the ice and open a door for interaction. All the other kids want to look at the pet, and the shy child can tell everyone about the pet.

Responsibility

Taking responsibility for a pet is a healthy thing for a child to do. Whether it’s a tropical fish, hamster, rabbit, or German Shepherd, a child can learn a lot about accomplishment and satisfaction from looking after his or her own pet.

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One Response to Did You Know That Pets Can Help Keep Your Child Healthy?

  1. Alternative Health Blog December 9, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    Excellent article. No doubt pets can provide a variety of benefits, not only to children, but to the entire family. I think one important thing to stress though, is that parents need to follow through with the responsibility portion of having pets. Many parents end up taking care of the pets themselves, and this sets a bad precedence for kids.

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