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5 Benefits of Raising Kids around Dogs or Cats

    Children born or raised in a home with pets (dogs or cats) have many physical and mental benefits. Several studies have proved how kids with children are at a greater advantage than kids being raised without them. Whether its separation anxiety, stress, and loneliness in kids or its learning and reading disabilities, pets can promote healthy (mentally & physically) development of children.

    1. Strong Immune System:

    Children having pet at home since the time of their birth have strong immune system. They are less prone to developing allergies or asthmas. In a journal Pediatrics, research has reported that infants raised around pets—more specifically a cat or a dog—are less prone to falling ill due to allergies. The findings bolster that keeping the environment of babies excessively sanitized is not healthy for kids.

    Dr. Eija Bergroth, who is a pediatrician at Kuopio University Hospital, headed the study in Finland and said, “We think the exposure to pets somehow matures the immune system so when the child meets the microbes, he might be better prepared for them.”

    Kids having pets are treated with fewer antibiotics for their respiratory infections. With overuse of antibiotics for children, drug resistance in harmful bacteria increases, which makes the illness hard to treat. While this is true, some kids can have breathing problems if there is a lot of dander in your home. That’s why you might need to use the best cat dander spray once in a while. 

    Note: The research was conducted in rural or suburban areas, so chances are there that dog exacerbate the symptoms of asthma in child-patients in urban environments.

    1. Positive Self-Image:

    Children suffering from disabilities like autism, learning problems or developmental disabilities have a positive self-image if they are raised in a pet-friendly home. Therapy dogs are best companions for these children, who can listen to their emotions and learning without criticism. Autistic children often depend on non-verbal communication like dogs, so it’s the best therapy. Compassion and acceptance offered by dogs play a vital role in building confidence in children with or without disabilities.

    Hyperactive dogs are best child companions, but they can suffer from anxiety as well. To cure severe cases of anxiety, you can give your dog melatonin to overcome the influence of mind stressors.

    1. Better Reading Ability:

    In 1999, Martin and Klotz began an experiment by starting a “Dog Day Afternoon” initiative in a local library where children would read to the library pets. It focused on six children and six pets (five dogs and one cat). Martin says that most of the children were lacking in focus and zeal to perform any given task, and were having low self-esteem. After interacting with the therapy pets at the library, their confidence boosted significantly.  Many children with learning disabilities had overcome their failures and showed improved outcomes.

    The specialized local effort has changed into a Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) with its branches spread across the United States and Canada. In Europe and South Africa, R.E.A.D. team works in collaboration with Intermountain Therapy Animals.

    1. Improved Communication Skills:

    Children with disabilities have reduced anxiety and stress level when they are brought up with dogs. The low-stress and non-critical communication favors the development of better interaction in kids. In The Waltham Book of Human-Animal Interaction: Benefits and Responsibilities of Pet Ownership, research by Nienke Endenburg and Ben Baarda mentions:

    “Pet ownership might facilitate language acquisition and enhance verbal skills in children. This would occur as a result of the pet functioning both as a patient recipient of the young child’s babble and as an attractive verbal stimulus, eliciting communication from the child in the form of praise, orders, encouragement and punishment.”

    1. Emotional Intelligence:

    Studies have shown that children who are brought up in a pet-friendly home do great in Emotional Intelligence (EQ), which acts as a precursor for early academic achievements, more than what IQ can do. Emotionally Intelligent children had a better sense of self-esteem, reduced signs of stress, an understanding of the cycle of life, improved cognitive skills and a compassionate heart.

    Moreover, hyperactive dogs can keep the children engaged at all times, and promote physical health in them. Physical activity leads to release of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals, which aid in the development of positive outlook on life in children.


    James Shore is a part-time dog-trainer and dog behavior consultant. He is a professional freelancer with years of experience in dog training. He is interested in finding out fun ways to handle dog behaviors, specifically, Labradors to help dog-owners enjoy their companions at all times. His pet-passion led him to develop to help people.