Dogs really are man’s best friend and cats are the bee’s knees. But when you have kids, you have more than enough on your plate without adding the sound of an extra four feet pattering on the floor.
But could having a pet really have an influence on your kid’s happiness and wellbeing? And what about mum and dad – is it just an extra mouth to feed, or do our pets become something more?
Lower risk of heart disease
A Swedish study of 3.4 million people between the ages of 40 and 80 showed a lower risk of heart disease among dog owners. Having a dog was associated with a 23 per cent reduction in death from heart disease and a 20 per cent lower risk of dying from any cause over the 12 years of the study.
A child’s confidante
Another study has shown that children prefer to confide in their pets over their parents. The study undertaken by the Centre for Family Research at Cambridge University, analysed 100 families in the UK, focusing on children aged 12, for a period of over ten years. The findings showed that family pets, such as cats and dogs, were the preferred chosen confidantes of young children, as the children saw their pets as the least judgemental listeners in the family.
“Pet dogs could reduce childhood anxiety, particularly social and separation anxiety, by various mechanisms,” says the author of research published in the journal titled: Preventing Chronic Disease. The research showed that 21 per cent of children who didn’t have a pet dog met the clinical threshold reserved for anxiety screening, compared to a much lesser 12 per cent who met the threshold who did have a dog.
A parent is often iffy about getting a pet if there’s discrepancy in the family about who is going to be taking care of the animal. Feeding, watering, exercising are all important daily responsibilities for dog owners. Not to mention trips to the vet, washing and dental care. If your have an older child, between nine and 16 years, they’re probably ready to take on some of the responsibilities of dog-ownership.
Your children love you, that’s for certain, but sometimes having kids can be tough. In those times, turning to your dog for comfort can be a life-saver. Having someone in the house who loves you unconditionally* is a nice safety net for those tough parenting episodes!
*So long as they’re treated well and fed!