If you (or, more than likely, your child) have always wanted a pet, you probably desire an animal for companionship. Most of us haven’t considered the possibility that pets are good for our emotional and physical health. Now, researchers are delving more deeply into the specific health benefits of owning pets. According to a recent New York Times article, a slew of studies have demonstrated that children specifically can reap health rewards from hanging out with Fido. Here are some of the findings:
1. Children exposed perinatally to dogs may have a decreased chance of developing allergies.
A review published last year found that children who come from families with no family history of allergies are much less likely to develop allergies and asthma if they own dogs and are exposed during the perinatal period (five months before birth and one month after). This may be because exposing a child to allergens while it is young enables her to develop an immunity against the allergens. What’s more, scientists have found that much more research has to be done before concluding, erroneously, that cats and dogs are prime sources of allergies.
2. Owning pets can help ward off child obesity.
According to a study published in an Australian journal, warding off childhood obesity—a major epidemic in the United States—could be as easy as just getting a pet, particularly one that you have to exercise and play with on a daily basis.
3. Interaction with pets helps children learn communication skills and empathy
Psychological development in young children is absolutely crucial in determining the way the approach challenges later in life. Several studies have shown that children owning pets helps them develop empathy—the ability to understand others’ feelings and show compassion—and nonverbal communication skills. What’s more, having the perceived unconditional love that a pet offers is important while a child may be having social difficulties at school and elsewhere.
4. Pets have served in therapeutic roles, helping children with specific disabilities.
Not too long ago, the New York Times ran a long feature that told the story of an adopted Russian boy’s struggles with fetal alcohol syndrome. The syndrome severally effected the child’s mental development. He would often have extreme and violent tantrums well into his teen years, and had difficult interacting socially and performing well academically. It wasn’t until the boy was given a trained therapy dog that he finally showed signs of improvement in managing his emotions. It’s stories like this that demonstrate the immense impact our pets can have on our lives.
While we know from personal experience that pets can dramatically affect our lives for the better, science has finally showed us the benefits of pets are objectively true.
This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at accredited online colleges about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @ gmail.com.