Growing up with a dog can have a hugely positive impact on your children's health and happiness
They don't call it man's best friend for nothing.
If you have been on the fence for a while about whether or not to add a dog to your family, this study might be what tip the scales for you.
According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children living in homes with dogs (and cats!) are healthier – on multiple accounts: “Children with early dog contact seem to have fewer respiratory infectious symptoms and diseases, especially ear infections, and needed a shorter course of antibiotics.”
Living in the same house as a dog seemed to even give children stronger resistance to infections—and a similar result was found with household cats, too. “Cat ownership also showed a protective effect on infants, but not as strong as dogs,” explains Southern Living.
“Exposure to dogs in infancy—especially around the time of birth—can actually influence children’s immune development and reduce the likelihood of certain allergic diseases like eczema and asthma."
And guys – the benefits don't even stop at physical matters. No, several studies have also pointed out that growing up with a four-legged friend is also hugely beneficial to children's mental health and wellbeing. The socialising with an animal that dogs (and to an extent also cats) provide can go a long way to teach children about care and compassion, as well as responsibility.
In terms of happiness and mental health, companion animals are believed to improve owners’ emotional well-being and decrease the likelihood of stress and anxiety—even in children. “Having a pet dog in the home was associated with a decreased probability of childhood anxiety,” concludes a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Interestingly, in a study by the American Humane Association on pets in the classroom, teachers consistently observed the development of “sympathy, empathy, responsibility, compassion for living things, [and] loving caretaking” in children’s interactions with classroom pets.
Ready for a trip to your nearest animal shelter...?