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Introducing a pet into the family is a big decision, especially for kids. Our pets become our family, and inserting a new family member into the mix can be daunting.

The good news? Pets bring with them incredible mental, physical, and emotional health benefits! Our furry friends provide love, companionship, and even dopamine boosts as we care for them throughout our lifetimes. They’re also incredible learning experiences for our little ones.

Benefits First, Responsibilities Second

Adding a new member of the family means discussing how your lives will change. Kids should be aware of this, too, especially now that a parent’s or caregiver’s attention will be more divided.

Adjust your conversations about pets to kids’ age and maturity level. Use simple language and explanations to convey information without overwhelming them. Whether you’re introducing a goldfish or a Great Dane, make sure your child feels confident and excited about their new furry, scaly, or feathered pal. It’s important to establish an open and safe space for conversations about pets. Encourage your child to share their thoughts and questions, making sure that they feel secure in exploring this new aspect of family life.

Now for the fun part! Let’s talk more about the benefits of pet ownership:

  • Playing with a pet is calming – Playing with a dog, cat, or any other pet can boost levels of serotonin and dopamine, which can help people (and kids!) relax.
  • Pets help with social skills – Having a pet can help a child learn how to interact with other living things in a loving and caring way.
  • Teaching responsibility – Pets teach kids how to be responsible; after all, our pets need water, food, love, and exercise, and they need humans to provide them with those things. Kids over the age of 5 can be trusted with age-appropriate tasks related to your pet, like playing with them or feeding them (with supervision, of course!).
  • Improved cardiovascular health – According to Harvard Medical School, a recent study published in the August 2022 issue of Current Hypertension Reports states, “pet ownership – especially dog ownership – may be linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.” Longer life spans equals more time with our family members, both furry and human.

Focus on the Paw-sitive

While discussing the responsibilities of pet ownership, highlight the positive aspects and the joys that come with having a pet. Encourage your child to see the fun and companionship that pets bring into their lives, emphasizing the bond they’ll form with their new best friend.

Whether it’s adopting a playful pup or welcoming a cuddly cat, embark on this adventure of introducing a pet into your family with your child and get ready for your new furbaby!

Harvard Health Publishing – “The heartfelt benefits of pet ownership” – – “The Health and Mood-Boosting Benefits of Pets” – PsychCentral – “8 Reasons to Listen to Your Kid and Get That Pet” – Michigan State University – “The Benefits of a Family Pet”