How To Choose A Pet For Your Child

Pets are not only a source of comfort for kids, they also teach them all about confidence, responsibility and even offer therapeutic help. Here's how you can choose the right companion for your child.

By Rashi Narang

How To Choose A Pet For Your Child

We all know how pets enrich our lives and foster a sense of companionship in us that seals a bond with these furry creatures for years to come. However, little do we know that pets also reduce our cholesterol, stress levels and heart rates by just their mere presence in our lives. It is said that interacting with a pet causes our brain to release happy hormones such as oxytocin and serotonin, thereby reducing our stress.

How to choose a pet

Choosing the right pet for your home is crucial and it is best to learn a little about different types of pets to find which one will suit your family best. Pets are family and here are some questions that you must ask yourself before you decide on a pet:

  • Which type of animal is best fit for your home? Big, small, can you live with pet hair or the occasional wear and tear caused by pets.
  • Is your child allergic to fur or some other health issue that might help you choose the right pet?
  • How much time would you be willing to spend with your pet?
  • How much responsibility are you willing to take for your pet?
  • How much exercise do you get and would be willing to offer your pet?

Dogs – If you are willing to bring home a dog for your home, you must know that Dogs are super social beings and need loads of interaction on a daily basis. Dogs are also a long-term commitment and on an average live upto 10-12 years. If you are super busy and cannot invest a lot of time at home, a dog may not be the right choice for you.

Cats – Although cats do not require as much attention as a dog, they still need play time and pampering on a daily basis. Cats are also a long-term commitment as they live for upto 15 years, on an average, and can be wonderful companions. As cats are mostly indoors, you will have to keep a clean and fresh litter box at all times. Cats have different sorts of personalities, some like to remain aloof and do not like to be picked up and some like to be held and snuggled. Be prepared to accept their unique personalities either way.

Fish – Studies suggest that even watching your goldfish swim can reduce cortisol levels (a hormone that is associated with stress). Fishes are easier to take care for as opposed to dogs and cats and are less expensive to feed too. They also do not develop separation anxiety when left alone.

Benefits of pets for children

Unconditional love 

Pets create a safe zone for kids with their non-judgmental nature and their ability to offer comfort, support and to listen without any judgement or consequences. 

Empathy

A pet can teach your kid empathy when he/she starts undertaking responsibility to care for another living being such as understanding when the pet is hungry, sleepy, needs to poop, etc.

Confidence and responsibility 

By caring for a pet, children learn about being responsible and to manage simple tasks, thereby boosting their confidence levels.

Socialization and verbal skills 

Pets help to build social and cognitive skills of your child just by their presence. Children who have pets show much better social skills and sharing the bond with a pet is known to bring siblings closer. According to this study, reading to dogs is said to help kids develop greater fluency.

Therapeutic help 

A study suggested how petting a dog helps to reduce blood pressure, regulate heart and respiratory rate. Pets are also known to boost recovery and help in stress and anxiety. There are countless studies that point out how pets are helpful in dealing with autistic and troubled kids. They also reduce occurrence of hay fever, asthma and allergies if kids are exposed to pets during the initial years of their life. 

The author is Founder and CEO, Heads Up For Tails.