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Top 5 Benefits of Pet Ownership for Children and Families

Bringing pets into a family home is a major decision, and one that can impact not only the household, but the lives of everyone in it. Before you consider purchasing a pet, there are a few issues you’ll want to address. First and foremost, you should make sure that your kids aren’t allergic to dander, and you can accomplish this by having them spend time around a friend’s dog or cat, for example. In truth, studies have shown that kids exposed to animals early in life are less likely to develop such allergies, so getting pets for young kids could be a great idea. However, you also want to make sure that you consider which pets will best suit your lifestyle. If your family is gone a lot of the time, you need a pet that can handle your absence (a young animal needs a lot of attention). And you’ll certainly want a breed or a particular animal that has a disposition to deal with children (nervous or aggressive pets need not apply). But when you find the right dog, cat, or other pet for your home, you’ll discover that there are all kinds of benefits to be gained from making an animal a member of your family.

  1. Companionship. Perhaps the best reason to bring a pet into your home is for mutual companionship. Just as your kids will enjoy playing and snuggling with an animal, your pet will also have the opportunity to join your pack and receive the love and care he needs to survive and to lead a long, healthy, and happy life.
  2. Increased happiness. Some studies have shown that people with pets tend to report a much higher level of happiness and overall satisfaction, while other research proves that pet owners experience behavioral and even neurochemical changes that lead to an increase in positive emotion. So if your goal is to make your household and your family happy, getting a pet could be the answer.
  3. Physical fitness. Animals, especially young ones, need plenty of exercise and play time, and this can be a good opportunity to engage the whole family in physical fitness. Whether you head to the dog park to throw a frisbee, you run your pooch around the neighborhood, or you have the kids run up and down hallways trailing string for your cat to chase, having a pet in the home can help to increase physical activity for all.
  4. Teach responsibility. If you want your kids to learn how to care for another living being, bringing home a pet is a good first step. Teaching them how to feed, bathe, and otherwise see to the needs of an animal can prepare them to one day take care of themselves and even other people.
  5. Protection. Your dog can’t stop your toddler from climbing out of his playard and falling on the floor or getting into something he shouldn’t, but he can warn your family of intruders, attack anyone threatening you or your kids, or even scare off would-be burglars simply by being there. Of course, you’ll have to engage in specific training in order to turn your family pet into a guard dog, but this cuddly member of your family could provide a lot more than love and companionship: he could become your protector.
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