Pet Positive

By Nora Heston Tarte

Getting a family pet is a big decision. Whether it’s a goldfish or a dog, pets come with responsibility and they can really alter a family’s dynamic. While you’re weighing the pros and cons of pet ownership, consider these positives.

Responsibility

The added duties associated with pet ownership have likely landed on your con list, however, it is important to consider the positive impact added responsibility can have on your brood. If kids are clamoring for a new pet, consider their role. Even a toddler can fill a food bowl twice a day, while older children can be held responsible for walks, baths, cage cleaning, and other duties.

Good Health

Many pets encourage a more active lifestyle. A dog that needs walking gets its owner up and out, while other animals like horses can encourage exercise and more time outdoors. A dog especially can easily integrate into family activities, including swimming, hiking, biking, and running. Many studies have also linked children who grow up with pets—namely cats and dogs—to less illnesses and allergies throughout their life.

Mood Boost

Interaction with animals raises both serotonin and dopamine levels, which make people happy. Animals are great companions for children, and have been linked to reducing stress for people of all ages. This is especially true for pets that can be pet and held, including dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, and more.

Life Lessons

Parents may consider how the loss of a pet will affect a child, but before you place that experience in the con column, consider the positive side. A pet is often the first big loss a child experiences, and with that they learn a lot about life cycles. The loss of a pet in childhood can emotionally and psychologically prepare a child for loss later in life.

Which Pet Should You Get?

If you’re looking for a social animal to become part of the family and you have plenty of time to dedicate to care, consider a dog.
A quiet home life is more suitable for a rabbit. Rabbits do not do well in loud, hectic environments.
If you have the time and money, a horse can make a wonderful companion for children and adults. Horses have been linked to providing therapeutic benefits to those with disabilities.
If you’re looking for a caged animal, a bird may be a good fit. However, you will need space for a large cage.

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