Thursday, 14 April 2011

Children can benefit from having a pet in your home!

This is an article I received from the Johannesburg SPCA. I hope that you will be encouraged to choose a pet for your family.
Please remember that by adopting a pet you are saving a life, but by buying one you are most probably supporting a puppy mill or illegal breeder.
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Whilst having a pet in your home is a very big responsibility for you and your child, bringing an animal into your life can have enormous benefits. Those who truly love and care for their pet can reap the rewards of a loving, trusting and faithful companion as well as numerous health benefits.
Besides a very close bond that builds up between pet and child, pets have been known to decrease high blood pressure, assist in the prevention of heart disease and most certainly combat depression. Whilst parents enjoy these benefits, animals are able to teach children a couple of lessons in life.
Whilst responsible pet ownership can assist children to develop their independence, it can also set them on the path to becoming mature and dependable adults. Owning a pet can teach children numerous skills and have other benefits, including:
1. Responsibility
Children can learn the importance of responsibility at an early age, by becoming a pet’s primary caregiver. Pets that require more attention, like a cat or dog, can present an opportunity for a parent and child to bond with each other, whilst enjoying the company of their pet. Teaching children how important it is to become responsible for an animal’s life can help them to understand the qualities of discipline, patience, kindness and attentiveness.
2. Discipline
Walking the dog, feeding the guinea pig and talking to the parrot can serve as a fun replacement for television programmes, Play Stations, movies and videos. These pet-related activities help children to remain focused on the task at hand. Enhanced concentration enables them to then cut out distractions, allowing focused time for homework and chores.
3. Life skills
Bringing a pet into the home as a part of your family can be an effective way of preparing your children for real life situations. For example, pets are able to ease the tension of sudden change for a child. When mom and dad bring home their new bundle of joy, the older child will still have a great deal of undivided attention from the family pet. Taking proper care of your pet can also help children to learn how to deal with medical issues and illnesses, when they are exposed to routine veterinarian check-ups or when your pet is hurt or ill.
4. Allergies and illnesses
If your child misses a lot of school due to illness, maybe you should get a cat. Research has shown that children who own pets attend school up to nine more days a year than their non pet-owning classmates. The immune function of pet owners is more stable, making them better able to fend off illness. Cat hair is thought to be a common source of irritation to the immune system. However, a leading theory still currently under investigation by asthma researchers suggests that the presence of pets in the home, from an early age, may adapt the immune system so it is less sensitive to allergens later in life. Always consult your doctor.
5. Unconditional love
Children who live with pets show more empathy for others and help others more. This may be related to other findings that children who are raised with pets have a higher self-esteem. This is thought to result from the pet’s unconditional love. No matter what's going on at school, or with friends, pets always treat children the same way.
Pets play an important role in many children's lives as they often talk to them and regard them as friends and confidantes. A five-year study of 600 children aged between 3 and 18-years-old showed that pet-owning children, who have challenges such as being slow learners or having divorced parents, cope better with life than those who don't have a pet.
Having a pet that shows unconditional love, regardless of what is happening in the home, can cushion other difficulties in a child’s life.
For more information please don’t hesitate to contact the Johannesburg SPCA on:
Tel: (011) 681 3600 Fax: (011) 681 3660 Email: Website:

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