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Many of us have fond memories of growing up with the family cat or dog (or both if your parents happened to be equal opportunity pet lovers). As it turns out, 62 percent of households in the United States include companion animals. Dogs are the most popular choice coming in at 39 percent, while cats take a pretty close second at 33 percent. For those of us lucky enough to fall into that 62 percent, childhood included some pretty awesome memories with our first best friend. Playing in the yard, cuddling in pillow forts or dressing our rescue lab like batman to match our Joker costume for Halloween – it’s hard to think of a childhood moment that Sparky didn’t play a featuring roll in.
Yes, the Halloween thing happened. Best Bat-lab and Joker ever.
Aside from building great memories, having a pet in the house actually serves some pretty incredible purposes when it comes to the emotional development and even physical health of kids. Multiple studies point to the positive impact that companion animals have on our kids, but don’t despair if allergies, building policies or finances keep you from being able to add to the family at the moment. There are plenty of programs and volunteer opportunities out there that allow kids to engage with animals one-on-one and reap many of the rewards that having a companion in the home would provide. Either way, kids and animals alike benefit from each other’s company, and they enjoy some pretty valuable benefits along the way.
1. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics shows that kids who had a dog during the first year of their life had higher immune response, with 31% fewer respiratory tract infections than those without.
2. Budding fashion designers always have a muse.
3. Finding a partner in cuddling crime is a non-issue when a furry friend is around.
4. I think I can, I think I can! Children with a companion animal in the home have higher self-esteem.
5. Living with and interacting with a family pet increases empathy and compassion.
6. They won’t question a pressing need to splash in some sweet puddles mid-walk.
7. Having a furry friend in the house can help instill a sense of responsibility in kids, so keep assigning those poop scooping chores. It’s for their own good.
8. They’ll never lack for a soft pillow.
9. Children with autism, other spectrum disorders or ADHD can experience lowered blood pressure and better cognitive and communication gains when able to participate in therapy dog programs.
10. You think your kid is excited to jump in leaves? With a family pet, they’ll never have to dive alone!
11. They’ll be there for Junior after they’ve endured the opening sequence of UP.
12. Family pets are always down for an intergalactic adventure.
13. Kids with a dog are more likely to get out and play, taking Fido on walks and throwing a ball or toy for some catch.
14. Any monsters under the bed are gonna find themselves outnumbered by the A-Team. (The “A” stands for adorable.)
15. Kids who find reading a challenge have higher success when reading to their pet. Researchers posit that this can be the result of lowered stress when in the presence of Mr. Whiskers.
16. No kid would have to be faced with an itch they couldn’t reach.
17. It’s important for a kid to have a partner in crime to share special life moments with.
18. Pets can be there for comfort when things get real.
19. What is the cost of a rescued shelter animal for the family? Usually, a low adoption fee that typically includes the first round of shots and a spay/neuter procedure.
20. Feeling loved unconditionally? Priceless.
Lead Image Credit: Prezentino.com