Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pet Week 3: The Benefits of Pets on Kids

     As I stated in my introduction post, my husband and I were a little concerned about bringing a baby home to our two cats.  They had never had any contact with children, so we really did not know how they would react. I certainly wanted to raise Q-ball with pets.  As such, we always take the necessary safety precautions: never leaving her alone with the cats, ensuring cats cannot come near her while she is sleeping, and vaccinating the cats. 
  Science has shown there are lots of benefits for kids who have pets.  Read on!
  1. A Detroit Childhood Allergy study showed that children who were exposed to pets in their first year of life typically had half the sensitivity to dogs and cats as children without exposure to pets.  (One difference was girls with dogs- they actually showed an increase to later sensitivity.  The researchers could not explain this difference...)
  2. A study published by the American Medical Association found that exposure to pets early in life can actually decrease the risk of allergies to dust mites, grass, ragweed, and Alternaria (a fungus found in air.)
  3. A University of Virginia in Charlottesville study found that teenagers with family dogs were more likely to be in shape and less likely to be overweight than their pet-less counterparts.  
  4. Pets provide companionship for children.  As children age, they become increasingly attached to their pets- providing more care and increasingly playing with the pet.  
  5. In the case of working mothers, children are even more attached to their pets. Children with working mothers, stated pets served as a "special friend."  This relationship between child and pet may provide another consistent attachment figure for the child whose mother works outside the home, leading to increased separation from the primary attachment figure.
  6. In younger children (kindergarten age), greater levels of empathy and fewer behavioral issues were found in children with pets.
Grano, A. (2011, July 20). The benefits of pet ownership from babies to teens. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Melville, K. (2002. August 20). Dogs, cats reduce risk of allergies in kids. Retrieved from

Melson, G., Peet, S., Sparks, C. (1991).  Children's attachment to their pets: Links to socio-development. Children's Environments Quarterly, (8)2, 55-65. Retrieved from

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