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As someone who grew up with animals and the mother of two young children, I have always believed that pets are good for kids. Yet despite this, most of us with kids and pets have experienced “the look.” What I am referring to is the look you get from one of your friend’s without animals when they see your dog lick your kid’s face, or worse, the absolute terror on their face when your dog licks their kid’s hands. We all have those friends, the non-animal people who just don’t get it. As a veterinarian and animal lover who has always had a household of pets, I have endured many looks and comments. “You let the dog in the house around the kids?” “The cat sleeps in the bed?” “Aren’t you afraid the dog is going to give them something?” Not only are most of these concerns unfounded, it turns out that having a pet around kids is actually good for their health.
So how are pets good for our kids? In addition to teaching them empathy, responsibility, and love, pets can make great friends and companions for children. Pets also show kids how to express love by petting, being gentle, hugging or kissing. Pets have been shown to help children overcome shyness, develop trust, and enhance their social skills. As if that wasn’t enough, science has shown that pets also offer health benefits to children. A study by Dr. Gern from at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that infants that grow up with pets are less likely to develop asthma and allergies. He evaluated blood samples from infants after birth and then on their first birthday to look for changes in their immune system or evidence of allergic reactions. His research supported previous studies that have shown that allergies, eczema and asthma occur less frequently in children with pets. In addition, animals have been proven to help with stress, anxiety, depression, autism, ADD and other psychological issues.
Our course, there are caveats. As much as I love and adore pets, I recognize that they are animals and they could harm a child because of food or toy aggression or if provoked. Even if you “know” your pet, supervise their interactions and make sure your pets don’t show ANY signs of aggression. Likewise, teach your children to respect your pets: never allow them to tease or take away food or toys from pets. Also, exercise common sense: the most mild mannered labrador retriever can get rambuctious and could inadvertently hurt an infant. When it comes to children and pets, my maternal instincts always trump the animal lover in me and I always choose what is safest for my kids.
Besides having a well-behaved pet, you want to make sure they are healthy. Take your pet to the veterinarian for regular veterinary visits and yearly parasite checks (fecals). Keeping your pet on year round parasite preventatives will also ensure that your pet is healthy and will not spread anything to your family (diseases that can be passed from people to pets are called zoonotic). Once you know your pet is healthy and protected from internal and external parasites, you can relish the fact that your pet is actually good for your children.
Making sure your pets and kids behave well around one another and ensuring your pet is as healthy as possible will be well worth the effort. Consider the great benefits kids can reap from having pets in their lives. So next time someone without pets gives you “the look,” just smile and know that your pets are actually good for your kids.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
10 They Provide Your Child With Companionship
Children tend to get lonely, especially if they are the only child or their parents are usually busy. This is why you find that they will cry every time you want to leave them for work or to run errands.
When your child gets a pet, they will divert all their attention towards it. Their separation anxiety will reduce, and they will find comfort in the pet. You will begin to feel neglected, but your child won't be as lonely as they were. This is especially true when your kid is an only child.
Are birds good pets for kids?
No. Birds are a popular pet because they're small, pretty, mostly inexpensive, and can be friendly to humans. So why are they on this list? Because small kids can't be trusted to pet birds gently, or close the cage properly so birds won't fly away. Young children may squeeze small birds, like baby chicks or parakeets, to death, or otherwise injure them.
Birds also make a lot of noise. Even a small bird like a parakeet makes small chirps all day long, and large birds like parrots sing, talk, and screech whenever they're not sleeping. Perhaps worst of all, birds can carry bacteria, viruses, and diseases that can be spread to humans – and since their cages need daily maintenance, they require a lot of care, too.
These spiny mammals may not make cuddly pets, but they are cute, friendly, and relatively long-lived, with a lifespan of five to seven years. And if hedgehogs are handled while still young, they will grow to be social with your child. A downside is that you might find yourself spending more money caring for them. "Hedgehogs require more care and are prone to more health problems than other small pets," says Dr. Quesenberry. "They have a higher incidence of disease and sometimes develop oral cancer and get mites, so your vet bills may be a bit higher for a hedgehog." Hedgehogs also require a different diet containing vegetables and special food with protein because they are omnivores. Sometimes cat food can fulfill the requirement, but you should consult your veterinarian. When considering getting a hedgehog as a pet, make sure to check your local state laws -- it's illegal to own these small mammals in certain states.
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