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Whether it’s playing with a pooch or petting a purring kitty, there’s no doubt that pets can bring their owners (young and old) plenty of joy. But the advantages of pet ownership go well beyond the fact that they’re cuddly and lots of fun. So if you’ve been wondering whether this is the right time to add a four-legged (or two-winged or multi-finned) critter to your family, here are a few reasons why getting a pet may be a very good idea:
With a pet in the house, even the youngest toddler can pick up a few pointers about responsibility. Of course you’ll take on most of the pet-care chores, but your tot will absorb a lot from your nurturing example, like the importance of being kind and gentle. He can even lend a tiny hand with the easier jobs, like pouring food into a dish. By pitching in, he’ll realize that pets, just like people, need food, shelter, exercise, and love, teaching him valuable lessons about empathy and compassion.
There’s research showing that kids with family pets have higher self-esteem. Why? Probably because they have a four-legged (or two-legged) creature to love who loves them right back, and a friend to talk to and play with when no one else is around. Later on, when your child starts school, your pet can even boost his academic skills. Studies show that reading aloud to a loyal (and nonjudgmental) companion, like a dog, can turn a reluctant reader into a self-confident one. What’s not to love about that?
Experts say that children who grow up with pets are less likely to develop common allergies thanks to early exposure to certain bacteria. (Of course, some children are genuinely allergic to animals — so check on that before you take the plunge.) And some research shows that pet owners tend to get sick less often — in fact, a 2012 study determined that children who lived with dogs were generally healthier during their first year of life, with fewer respiratory problems and less frequent ear infections than kids without canines. Another pro to pets? Brushing, patting, or stroking a furry creature can lower stress levels — and that’s just as true for moms and dads as it is for kids.
Don’t know what pet is right for your family? Read on for more tips on choosing the right pet, helping your pet fit into the family, and more.
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