Pets and Children

We all enjoy the presence of a pet, be it a cat or dog or any other animal. Nothing beats the cuteness affection that comes from any sort of pet, especially the most common forms of pets- cats and dogs. Although a pet can provide many benefits to a child, you also need to consider what type of pet is appropriate for your household and family and have realistic expectations for yourself, the child and your pet. Bringing a pet into the family isn’t a decision that should be made lightly, but nevertheless should definitely be explored for the benefit of teaching a child responsibility in a fun way.

child pets


– Pets offer loyalty, friendship, unconditional love and fun to a child which can build-self esteem and increase happiness

– Depending on your child’s age, assign tasks to help care for the animal. If the child is old enough, perhaps walking the dog may be a good task. Cleaning up messes, assisting in training the dog, feeding, etc. are other tasks that can be given to your child. Helping care for the pet can teach responsibility.

– Children by nature are self-centered, so having a child helps develop empathy. Taking care of another being can help children understand that there are other needs other than theirs.

– Pets may help your child feel safer and more secure.

– Exercise is another benefit if your child walks the dog or plays with the pet. With today’s world of technology, pets are a good and fun distraction from constant TV and computer use.

– Exposing your child to pets can build their immune systems.

– Children who own pets may become more punctual and have a better sense of time management due to the timely responsibilities of feeding a pet, walking the dog, etc.

– Taking care of a pet also means visits to the vet, which can be an educational experience for children to learn how to treat certain illnesses and/or injuries.

– Reading, taking training classes and/or watching documentaries about the kind of pet can enhance children’s learning skills.

Although the benefits are absolutely superb and encouraging, a family discussion is important before making the decision to own a pet. Assigning responsibilities to different family members, including the children is important before adopting the pet. In addition, it is important to stress to your child that owning a pet is just as hard as it is fun. The journey may be tough on them at first, but give your child the trust and push and you may just have a fun new member to the family!


Pets and Children, No. 75
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)

Pet Ownership Can Teach Children Life lessons
Gina Spadafori
The Pet Connection
(Via Veterinary Information Network (VIN) partnership)

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