Are you debating whether or not to have a pet join your family? A pet can be a perfect addition to your child’s life and has the potential to provide much more than loyalty and afternoon cuddles. Having a pet in your home can actually boost your child’s emotional, physical and intellectual vitality.
From an emotional perspective, a pet can distract a child from pain, unpleasant medical treatments and general anxiety associated with a difficult diagnosis. Certified therapy dogs are often incorporated into treatment plans at children’s hospitals for this very reason. While your child may not be dealing with an extended hospital stay, a pet can help relieve the everyday stress associated with “boo-boos” or sad feelings. A pet provides warmth, comfort and a sense of familiarity, which may give your child extra emotional support in times of uncertainty.
As a whole, growing children are susceptible to getting sick. But, those who have pets tend to develop stronger immune systems. In fact, having a pet in a household can lower a child’s risk of developing common allergies and asthma. Children love playing with pets, which offers an easy opportunity for more physical activity. Increased exercise while actively engaging with a pet helps improve overall health and well being.
Pets are also great for children with disabilities. Certain pets can make every day activities easier and safer for a child. Dogs tend to be the animals that are best able to provide assistance to the disabled. After extensive training, certified therapy dogs can assist children with disabilities such as:
- Blindness – Guide dogs are trained to be the “eyes” for a blind person. This can help make tasks like crossing the street and traveling easier and safer.
- Deafness – Hearing dogs are able to alert children of important sounds such as alarms, telephones, or a friend talking to them.
- Diabetes – Diabetic alert dogs are trained to sense when a child’s hypoglycemia levels change. This change is undetectable by humans without a blood sugar test.
- Epilepsy – Seizure response dogs initially are used to call for help or to protect a child while he or she is seizing. Some dogs, after a long period of time, are able to sense an oncoming seizure.
Pets can offer more than just emotional and physical support; they can also provide intellectual support. Children who are learning to read may feel more comfortable reading aloud to a pet. This sense of companionship and support may also help a child to engage in conversations and better interact when a pet is present. As a pet may help support communication and reading skills, children with pets may feel an increased sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
In the formative years of a child’s development, a pet can serve as a confidant, playmate and best friend. A pet can be a wonderful addition to any growing family.
Why do you want to add a pet to your family?
“Animal Assisted Therapy for Special Needs Children.” Equine Therapy. Web. 24 October 2013.
David, Jeanie Lerch. “5 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health.” WebMD. WebMD, LLC. Web. 24 October 2013. <http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/health-benefits-of-pets>.
Meyer, David. “10 Reasons Pets are Good for Kids.” Oprah. Harpo Productions, Inc. 10 June 2010. Web. 24 October 2013. <http://www.oprah.com/relationships/10-Reasons-Pets-Are-Good-for-Kids>.
McCandless, Sarah Grace. “Top 5 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet.” Animal Planet. Discovery Communications, LLC. Web. 24 October 2013. <http://animal.discovery.com/pets/benefits-of-pets.htm>.