Published: 06/30/2015 - Updated: 05/16/2018
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Did you know that children that grow up surrounded by domestic animals and that interact with them benefit greatly in cognitive, socioeconomic and physical development?
There are four basic reasons that living with cats and dogs is beneficial to children’s health.
For example, a child that has a pet at home has only a 30% chance that he or she will experience respiratory problems, and roughly half of those children will not suffer from ear infections. Their immune systems will also be stronger, which is why they’ll need less antibiotic treatments. Likewise, babies that live with dogs are less likely to develop allergies.
From the first year
Simply being surrounding by a dog that spends part of its day outdoors will strengthen your child’s immune system in their first year of life. Some specialists say that children that live with cats and dogs also are less likely to develop allergies than children that have never been in contact with animals.
Then there’s the value a pet has when a baby is learning how to walk, and especially during their cognitive development, because they can enjoy different sensory aspects of the animals, and they learn about them.
Be Careful with Jealousy
If the baby comes after the pet, it’s important to watch the pet’s behavior to make sure the pet doesn’t relate the baby to a loss of privileges, potentially behaving hostile.
You should also explain to children that pets are living beings, and they need space and time to rest. This is the only way they can share pleasant moments together.
Having enough space for a pet at home
First of all, when you’re getting ready to introduce a pet to the house, the parents need to consider aspects like space and time available for the pet, the age of the children at home, and if there are any elderly people present.
Using these factors, you can then select the size of pet you would like, then their temperament, and lastly, which type of animal and the breed, which will combine the characteristics you would like.
Anytime there is a pet in the house, the younger kids will learn new responsibilities by taking part in the care of the animal. This is quite substantial in children that are pre-school and school age, and this will jump-start their social-emotional development as the intensity of their relationship will lead to the development of empathy.
In order to make sure that the relationship between the child and the pet at home is completely healthy, you need to vaccinate your animal accordingly. Remember that when you get a pet, they need to have a list of vaccinations, de-worming (internal and external) which are recommend by your vet. This will prevent your children from getting parasites or fungus. If you follow the vaccinations and your child learns normal hygiene habits, like washing their hands after playing with the cat or dog, not letting the pet climb on top of the bed, or kissing their noses, among other things, this will greatly reduce the risk of disease transmission.
Just when you least expect it, bringing a new pet to the family will create stronger family bonds, because pets join members of the family, creating an open space for communication.
The way your child relates to his/her pet will help him to create ties based on respect, it will establish habits for him and set firm limits. Pets bring about fondness, different feelings and reaction in each member of the family.
They make imagination and fantasies fly
Pets also become the “guardian” of children’s private secrets and thoughts. They frequently talk to pets like they talk to dolls. This allows them to let go of their fantasies, it stimulates activity between lucid activities, and promotes socialization and motor skills development.
Having a pet in the house could help the parents organize fun activities, like daily exercise and walks to relax pressure or family stress, if there is any at home. It also brings about different topics related to life: reproduction, birth, disease, accidents, death and pain.
Parent involvement, open discussion and planning are essential for making life with a pet wonderful for everyone.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 05/16/2018
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