If you’re looking at adding a four-legged friend to the family or any pet for that matter, there are plenty of benefits for children and adults alike.
Aside from the adorable faces and companionship, pets offer several health benefit from helping us stay fit to strengthening our immune system and more.
Recently, a study discovered that interacting with animals can lower the stress levels of children. While stress is something that commonly affects adults in their day-to-day life it was largely unknown that stress can affect children too.
“Stress is often a result of what we should be doing, versus what we are actually doing,” says Dr Ryan Harvey of House Call Doctor. “Therefore, it can affect anyone at any time – including kids.”
Learning that children can experience stress too can be confronting, but the good news is that engaging with a pet can help!
The study discovered that children who pet cats or dogs when stressed have lower cortisol levels.
“Cortisol is a hormone produced in response to a stressful situation or event,” says Dr Harvey. So the lower the cortisol levels the less stressed kids are.
But just one pat won’t do, the study found the more children played and petted the animals the less stressed they were.
If that is not enough to earn your pet some extra belly rubs or to convince you that adding to the family is worth it, the power of pets extends even further.
1. Boosts your mood
Feeling happiest when in the company of your pet does not necessarily make you a ‘crazy cat lady’. Science has proved that regular contact with animals helps boost your mood.
Regularly exercising and being around pets increases serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine levels. These are known as the happy, loving, and calming hormones that circulate the body. Higher levels of them can increase our general mental health.
2. Increases your cardiovascular health
They don’t just fill our hearts with love, owning a pet can actually have an immensely positive impact on cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
In addition to this scheduling regular walks with your dog, cat, bird or any other pet can help keep the family fit and active which is essential to our overall well-being.
3. Stengthens your immune system
Research has shown that children who grow up with dogs are 33% less likely to develop related allergies. Overall, they found that children exposed to animals at a young age have stronger immune systems.
Owning a pet is not all cuddles and wet kisses, there is a lot of work that goes into looking after an animal. While this may seem like too much for some, it provides a great opportunity for kids to develop a sense of responsibility. From changing kitty litter to bathing, brushing, and
feeding there is plenty of work to be done.
5. They are excellent care givers
Being sick and surrounded by a wall of snotty tissues is made infinitely better when your fury friend is cuddled up with you. Somehow our pets just know when we are feeling under the weather or a bit down and always know how to cheer us up.
Martin Deeley is founder of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP). The IACP is founded in 1999 as an international umbrella organisation for dog professionals. The IACP’s objective is to increase the professionalism of the professional groups that work with dogs.