Children and Pets - A Healthy Combination There have been many studies about the relationship between young children and having pets in the home. It has been found that having a pet dog or cat can actually make a baby healthier in their first year of life. They become less susceptible to respiratory infections, such as the common cold, and also have been less apt to have ear infections in their first twelve months of life. In addition to the health of children, pets can teach children useful skills that are helpful in their social interactions with people. Pets may help in the development of immunity in children because of the dirt and soil that they bring in from the outdoors. Children need to be exposed to many different elements to become immune to their surroundings. The findings of having cats in the household as pets were not as strong as having dogs because a dog goes outdoors on a more regular basis. Having pets in the household will not take away allergies if there is a strong family history, but there have also been studies done suggesting that children will not be as likely to become allergic to animals if they have regular exposure to them. Children can learn empathy, responsibility, communication, both verbal and non-verbal, and how to deal with stressful situations in a constructive manner from owning a pet. These skills can come from being a pet owner and taking the pet for walk, cleaning and maintenance of a yard used by the pet, and learning to talk to the pet with a calm voice even in stressful situations. Pets are often used for therapy with children that have learning disabilities or difficult home or family situations. Children that have pets learn to pay attention to non-verbal signals of communication, which is not a concept that is easily learned otherwise. For children struggling with obesity, the exercise that a dog needs can be the perfect therapy for both the dog and the child that is responsible for that dog's exercise routine. Pets may also have a positive effect on family activities. It may become a daily routine for a family to get together and take the pet on its daily exercise routine. This creates bonding between all of the family members and also includes the pet as part of the family, too. Overall, the effects of being a pet owner and having children are positive. Whether it helps with immunity from such things as the common cold, or helps in teaching a child responsibility and important communication and social skills, pets can become a wonderful addition to any family!
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