Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Fur babies and our kids

Everybody knows that kids love animals

My childhood memories consist out of playing with dogs, owning 2 bunnies, guinea pigs and budgies. Not all at the same time, but there were always animals in our lives. Not surprising since I am a veterinarian, we do have a lot of pets and I can truly see the way they affect my 2 children. Playing with a puppy or stroking a purring kitty can provide joy to anybody. As a result I often get the following questions: 1)We have a baby, do I get rid of my pets? 2)Why must we own a pet? 3)What are the dangers for my child? When you start to consider getting a pet for your family, remember owning a pet is not only about playing with them, having fun and giving cuddles. They have far more benefits that will be discussed. Pets teach kids values By having pets in our house I can already see the way they have enriched my 2 children’s lives. They realize that pets need to eat, drink and sleep. They know how to be gentle with pets and this compassion is spilling over to other people, animals and friends at school.  Pets teach kids responsibility Their first chore is to give the animals their food.  Owning a pet is a huge responsibility and is realized by them. Older kids can be responsible for cleaning hamster or bird cages, cleaning the yard for messes and taking puppy to puppy school just to name a few. Pets’ aid in learning Kids are more relaxed around animals. They do pretend play, read books to them and benefit from the non-judgmental furry friend. Emerging readers often feel more comfortable reading in front of a pet. This can be a fun experience for kids especially when they get nervous reading in front of other kids and adults Pets aid in physical activity My kids love playing outdoors with our dogs. They run, chase them and play hide and seek. In an age where even young kids start playing on cell phones and tablets, being outside becomes a priority. It gives us as a family time to walk with them together and enjoy the outdoors.  Pets are good for everyone’s health According to a study conducted by Dennis Cowby, MD, a pediatrician and head of the allergy and immunology department of the medical College of Georgia, having multiple pets actually decreases the child’s risk of developing certain allergies. He found that children who were exposed to 2 or more pets, in a household as babies, were less than half as likely to develop common allergies compared to children who grew up with no pets. Pets offer comfort Cuddling a pet will reduce stress, loneliness and anxiety.  Pets build family bonds As a veterinarian the average pet owner will tell me that their pet is part of their family. A pet is often one of the focus points for a family. They may take walks together with their dog or everybody play fetch in the garden Owners may play with their cats, get the bunny on the grass for a hop around or watch a fish. In today’s hectic life, of barely standing still,  a pet will teach us the value of to just be. As a result our kids will realize the value and wonder of slowing down. Pets are extremely beneficial for your child’s development. However it remains a huge responsibility to own a pet, and we recommend that adequate research needs to be done before obtaining a pet. Make sure the pet suits your family’s lifestyle and meet your expectations. To own a pet is a huge privilege and a great teaching tool for kids to develop in great adults  

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