There's no doubt that having kids and pets coexisting in the same house can get a bit hectic. If 62 percent of households in America have decided to bring pets into their homes, though, there must be some benefit to adopting a cute kitten or adorable puppy. It turns out that there's actually a slew of advantages that come from being a pet owner. While it's undeniably a huge responsibility to adopt an animal, various studies and stats about pets' benefits on moms and babies prove animals make happier homes.
Bringing a pet (most commonly a dog or a cat) into your home can have many positive effects on you and your kids. From your physical health to your mental health, keeping pets in the home is extremely beneficial for everybody. It's not only health that pets are good for, either. They can help stimulate your children's sense of responsibility, help them with their education, and bring them closer to their siblings. It also keeps them active, especially if you're a dog-owning family.
Deciding to bring an animal into your home is certainly an extra responsibility, but multiple studies show it has the ability to be a great thing for both you and your kids.
Pets Protect Against Diseases
According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, children who grow up with pets are less likely to get sick than their peers who don't. The researchers believe that when babies who are exposed to pet dander it helps bolster their immune systems at an early age. Right from the start, these babies can fend off a variety of allergens, bacteria, and viruses thanks to their pets. A previous study had also linked households with pets to babies with lower allergy rates. In addition to lower risk of allergies among babies, having a dog in the home has also been shown to help prevent infection from a common virus with the ability to increase the risk of asthma in children.
Pets Help Kids Learn
Mary Renck Jalongo, PhD, the author of The World of Children and Their Companion Animals, has found that having animals around your children helps them learn. "If you're struggling to read and someone says, 'Time to pick up your book and work,' that's not a very attractive offer," Dr. Jalongo said of comfortable learning environments for kids. "Curling up with a dog or cat, on the other hand, is a lot more appealing."
Further proving this point: A study of second graders conducted at Tufts University had one group of students read aloud to people every day, while another group of students read aloud to dogs. The researchers found that group who read aloud to dogs saw an increase in reading ability and those who read aloud to people had a slight decrease in reading ability. It's believed that the comforting presence of the animals had a beneficial effect on the children's performance.
Dog Owners Are Less Likely To Suffer From Depression
While parents will certainly be glad to hear that having pets can benefit both their kids' health and education, they'll also be glad to hear there are benefits for them too. A study conducted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health found that pet ownership, especially with dogs, has positive effects on mental health. Ian Cook, MD, a psychiatrist and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA, told WebMD that "pets offer an unconditional love that can be very helpful to people with depression." They provide things such as social interaction, touch, responsibility, routine, companionship, and more, which help people suffering from depression feel happier.
Pets Bring Families Closer Together
Pets have been shown to bring families closer together. Dogs and cats are often looked at as important members of the family in their own right, which means both parents and kids enjoy the pets' presence. They come together to bring the dog for a walk or laugh together at their cat chasing a fly or piece of yarn across the room. Caring for a pet is something family members can do together, which often times means becoming closer as family unit.
They Prepare You For Parenthood
Having kids is obviously a lot more work than raising pets, however, adopting an animal before having children has helped many adults prepare themselves to become parents. Even though raising humans is harder, pets are still completely dependent on you to take care of them. They need to be fed, walked, brought to the vet, bathed, and sometimes even medicated on a consistent basis. David Klow, a marriage and family therapist and owner of Skylight Counseling Center in Skokie, Illinois, told The Chicago Tribune that it's actually pretty common for couples to adopt a pet before having children. It's a way to see how well they will co-parent and, ultimately, help them decide if they're ready for kids.
Whether you decide to take the plunge and bring a furry friend into your family or are still considering your options, it's nice to know what a pet can do for your family. From health to happiness, somehow pets seem capable of doing it all. That must be why we love them so much.