In 2020, one in two French households housed a pet. The majority of these animals are made up of cats and dogs, but there are also the new pets (NAC) among which the rabbit or the guinea pig. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for adoptions to result in abandonment, in particular because the consequences of such a project had been under-evaluated or even not evaluated at all. Beyond this sad reality, the presence of a pet within a family brings a lot. Here is the list of 9 benefits brought by the reception of an animal.
Benefit #1: Daily contact with an animal improves immune defenses
An English study published in 2018 showed that children who grow up alongside a pet are less likely to develop childhood allergies than those who grow up without animals. When we allow ourselves to be licked by a dog or a cat, we receive bacteria which our body seizes to strengthen its immune defenses. This works especially well in children. Being around a cat early in life also limits the risk of developing asthma. Children also suffer less from respiratory infections and ear infections. Having a dog or cat has also been shown to lower the risk of developing colds or even the flu. More generally, having a dog or a cat at home leads to the consumption of fewer antibiotics.
Benefit #2: Living with an animal improves physical fitness
When you welcome an animal into your family, it’s because you want to share moments with it. People who have a dog go out regularly to walk it, those who have a cat or a rabbit do not hesitate to get on their hands and knees to play with it… It may seem insignificant but these are all opportunities to divert children screens and make them move. Children who live with a pet actually spend more time outdoors.
Beyond these concrete moments of physical exercise, the affection that we can have for our animal companions also protects against cardiovascular diseases. Indeed, stroking a cat or other furry animal provides a feeling of well-being and leads the body to secrete endorphins. Physical contact with an animal lowers an individual’s adrenaline level and heart rate, and slows breathing, actions which, over time, notably reduce the risk of myocardial infarction or high blood pressure.
Benefit #3: The presence of an animal strengthens family ties
Pets often pose as full members of the family. From this point of view, they now have their role to play in maintaining the quality of the ties between family members. Their particular status generally nourishes in each member of a family a dynamic of protection and care which reinforces the cohesion of the family group… Their presence eases tensions and calms conflicts. A dog will, for example, often tend to hide when cries arise. This manifestation disarms the protagonists by forcing them to take a step back from the conflict situation and consider the relationship with the other in a different way, instead of letting themselves be carried away by their negative emotions. The presence of a pet is therefore quite useful in the context of siblings where arguments are frequent. Here you can get the best portable dog water bottle at Family Pooch.
Benefit #4: The presence of an animal helps children to control their emotions
Many studies show that the presence of animals has calming effects on human beings in different contexts, including the professional environment. But for children, this appeasement is even more concrete than for an adult insofar as the animal can become a true confidant. Psychoanalysis has highlighted the positive effects of exposing your torments out loud. Children readily lend human emotions to their pet. And even if the confidant remains silent, a look or a lick is perceived as so many signs of empathy. The presence of the animal thus quite simply helps the child to evacuate his feelings. In addition to this psychological aspect, let us quote an American study published in 2019 which showed that stroking your pet causes a reduction in the emission of cortisol in the body, a hormone at the origin of feelings of stress and anxiety. .
Benefit #5: The presence of a pet stimulates the development of babies
Communication includes a whole non-verbal part which includes postures, gestures, facial expressions, etc. However, it turns out that an animal can help a child to develop his gestures, preponderant before the 4th year.
The interactions of a toddler with his pet constitute a real source of learning which leads to the development of touch, to the gradual integration of the notions of respect.
Benefit # 6: The presence of a pet reinforces the sense of responsibility
Caring for a pet nurtures a deep sense of purpose, regardless of age. By encouraging a child to take care of the animal, to respond to its requests (within clarified limits) and its needs, we nourish its sense of commitment and responsibility. This can be sketched out in a child of 4 or 5 years old, but he will not be able to really get involved in the daily life of an animal until he is 9 or 10 years old. The relationship between the child and the animal finds its full place in an educational context that promotes positive reinforcement methods laying the foundations for a healthy relationship, based on trust.
Benefit # 7: Being around an animal on a daily basis boosts self-confidence
When they have a pet, children learning to read often feel more comfortable reading their lessons or stories to their dog or cat than to their parents. This is the guarantee for them not to be judged and the exercise takes on a more playful and less stressful form, allowing more to dare. And since it is by trying that we learn and improve, you can imagine the beneficial role in certain learning processes of a pet, in particular for children in difficulty or with disabilities.
Benefit #8: An animal develops a child’s sociability
Unexpectedly, if a dog or a cat can be a real friend for your child, it can help him to make human friends. Sharing your daily life with an animal stimulates interactions. What dog master does not regularly exchange with other masters during a walk, when the dogs get closer to get to know each other? The same goes with children. When he holds the leash and other children approach to pet the dog, these are all spontaneous socialization exercises that have a positive impact on the child. This is useful when you have a child with a reserved or withdrawn character. Even when there is pathology, as in the case of autism, the presence of a dog greatly helps the child to open up to others.
Benefit # 9: An animal gives the opportunity to discuss delicate subjects of life
The loss of a pet is often a child’s first experience of coming to terms with death. Death, illness but also reproduction… Talking about the life of a pet, accompanying the child to understand his uniqueness, in understanding the fact that he often has a shorter life than ours, are so many opportunities to enter into a relationship with one’s child and to address the structuring subjects of our lives.