Dogs, Get One

By , Wilmington, MA

It is a widely accepted fact that pets are fun to have. I don’t think I know anybody that has gone their entire life without desiring a cat or dog to keep them company. Despite the fact most children want one of these at some point or another, parents tend to be hesitant for a variety of reasons. However, There is something neither the child or parent is considering; the various health benefits to owning a pet are often overlooked. These benefits are particularly evident in the situation of a child with a dog. Every child deserves the most possible opportunity to grow and learn, the possibility for this greatly increases through the ownership of a pet.


Mental health seems to be on a decline in America. There are increasing numbers of children with anxiety, depression, and many other mental illnesses. No matter what the cause, there is one solution that is rather universal; pet ownership. It is scientifically proven that having a dog increases levels of serotonin which is “the feel good” hormone. When cuddling or playing with a pet this hormone is released making the child happier and less stressed. In addition to this, having a pet around decreases a child's feelings of loneliness and allows them to form a relationship with an animal that is not as complicated as one with a human and is also easily understandable to the child. A pet’s love is near unconditional which allows the children to feel secure. This is particularly useful when faced with loss or rejection. The child may look to the pet for acceptance and love. In one study, it was found that children under nineteen desire to be in their pets company after a loss and generally feel better during and after. All of these factors encourage good emotional and mental health in a child with a pet.


Physically, a child benefits from having pets because they increase opportunities to be active. By nature of having a pet the child will be encouraged to move and play. Even if this exercise is minimal, it still qualifies as physical activity and encourages a healthy lifestyle. If walking the dog is a regular habit for the child, they will be more likely to continue this routine, and partake in some form of daily exercise throughout their life. Meanwhile, they will have already begun to gain the benefits of the walks that they went on as a child with increased muscle development and coordination. This physical activity is also a good bonding experience for the child and pet and will strengthen their relationship, further adding to the other health benefits.


One of the greatest things to come out of pet ownership is the lessons learned through responsibility. When a child grows up with a pet, they must take partial care of them. The responsibility of this encourages the child’s emotional growth. The children learn lessons from their relationship with their pet that they may otherwise not learn until much later in life. In addition, their empathetic response is further developed and ability to form positive relationships is increased. However, some of these advantages need parental support to work. The adults must encourage the child to take part in the care of their pet. Maybe the child can feed them, or fill their water bowl on a daily basis. This forces a routine and hopefully overtime the child will begin to do these things on their own or without prompting.


While owning a pet does not guarantee any of these benefits, it does greatly increase the chances of their happening. Every person, when young, deserves the chance to be the best and happiest they can be and owning a pet is one way to encourage this. Every aspect of your health can be bettered and social emotional skills developed. With the emotional, mental and physical benefits, there is no real negative effects of pet ownership.






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