5 Reasons You Should Get Your Kids a Pet

posted: 06/03/15
by: Mara Betsch
puppy kitten

There are plenty of reasons not to get a pet -- the constant fur on your furniture, the added expense, and the responsibility involved in taking care of another living thing -- but there are a lot of good reasons why you should, too. And you don't have to get a 8-week-old puppy to reap the benefits. Having pets of all shapes and sizes can provide the following benefits. So the next time your kids beg you for a kitten, maybe you should consider these perks before saying no.

1. Pets boost self-esteem

It's nice being adored, and pets are great ego-boosters when they greet you at the door or sleep with you each night. Kids with pets have been show to have greater self-confidence, and some studies have associated pet ownership with better academic performances.

2. Pets keep you happy

Just petting your cat or dog and boost levels of feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin, which are generally lower in people who suffer from depression. Having a pet can reduce your risk loneliness, anxiety and plenty of other mental health issues. It makes sense -- who wouldn't want undivided attention and constant snuggles?

3. Pets help your health

Studies show that having a furry (or scaly, or feathered) friends has been associated with lower cholesterol, blood pressure and triglyceride levels. And, interestingly enough, pets seem to help the immune system, too. Kids who grow up in a home with a dog or cat are less likely to develop allergies over time, and some studies even show that pet owners get sick less often.

4. Pets teach responsibility

No, your kids probably won't be getting at 6 a.m. to let the dog out, but they can help pour food into a dish, refill the water bowl and maybe even help you give pets a bath. They'll learn to love and respect all living things, and maybe pick up a little empathy and compassion along the way.

5. Pets encourage you to stay active

You may not burn a lot of calories caring for your goldfish, but other four-legged friends will most likely require you to be more active. A 2013 study found that 60 percent of dog owners walked 160 minutes per week, which is just above what the Department of Health and Human Services recommends. Even if you have another type of animal, cleaning up after him or her can help you stay active, too. Research has also found that children who owned pets were more likely to be involved in sports and hobbies.