Children and Pets
There are many health benefits that pets provide for both children & adults!
- Pets boost communication skills, confidence & language expression of kids, by interacting & forming a friendship with their pet. Children who read aloud to pets (who may be reluctant to read out loud at school) are more confident practicing by reading to animals. Studies show that kids up to age seven assume the dogs listen & understand everything said to them!
- Children with pets have lower rates of depression & ADHD-type disorders.
- Spending time & having contact with pets elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine (nerve transmitters that have pleasurable & calming effects) reducing overproduction of cortisol & norepinephrine can negatively affect their immune system.
- Pets teach responsibility to children & promote self-esteem, mutual trust, & build their ability to focus & concentrate- activities such as filling the food bowl or walking the dog gives kids a sense of accomplishment & learning to care for others.
- Children with pets have significantly higher empathy & social skills than non pet owners. Pets are always there for children, never criticize them & they will always be happy to see them. Growing up is hard, & many children are often faced with a lack of understanding by parents or peers. Children can find a best friend in their pet, who is always there to listen to them & provide affection.
- Although most parents want to protect their children from the cruelties of the world, having a pet allows kids to understand and learn about the cycle of life. Dealing with the death of a pet can help them cope with other challenging life events.
- Children who have dogs are less likely to be obese or overweight– children love to play, walk and run with their pets!
- Having a pet can lower a child’s risk of developing allergies by as much as 33%! Kids growing up in a home with pets they are able to pat and have a physical connection with, have higher levels of immune system response chemicals- a sign of stronger immune system activation. They have less risk of excema, asthma & other allergies- 9% with a pet vs. 36% without a pet.
- Most importantly having a pet is fun! Whether it is a dog, cat, bird or bunny, owning an animal brings enjoyment, playfulness and a loving bond to any household.
Having a pet join your family may be one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids!
Dr Rachel Murphy
In clinical practice, I continue to pursue passion for treating infants and children as well as pregnancy care, including pre and postnatal support. I have a strong belief that environment plays a crucial role in health and well being, and therefore treatment management must also include advice on exercise and nutrition, ergonomics, stretching, rehabilitation and lifestyle modification.
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