Stapleton Pediatrics Blog

Four-Legged Family Members (Benefits and Safety)

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
– Josh Billings

     Anyone who has spent even a short time with me comes to quickly know all about my sweet pups. (I mean, seriously, just look at those faces!) Truth be told, they are a huge part of my life, heart and happiness and I find joy in sharing them with others. When I was growing up, I always had at least one dog padding beside me on every adventure. We know that there are many benefits to sharing our lives with pet companions: unconditional love and devotion to name a few.
 
     Raising your children with pets provides great opportunity for learning responsibility, commitment and building healthy relationship skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Your pets will be your little ones’ first best friends. They will learn social skills, play skills and eventually empathy from your four-legged family members. Developing positive feelings about pets can contribute to a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
 
Pets can serve different purposes for children, such as:                  
  • Safe recipients of secrets
  • Providing lessons about life
  • Developing responsible behavior in children who care for them
  • Providing a connection to nature
  • Teaching respect for other living things
  • Encouraging physical activity and establishing routine
 
     In addition, some current studies suggest that animal contact may have an influence on the maturation of the immune system in infancy, leading to shorter duration of infections and better resistance to respiratory infections during early childhood. Other studies have found animal companions to provide mental benefits. Snuggling with or stroking a pet can help lower blood pressure and stress levels, help alleviate feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression.  
 
     While bringing a pet into the home may enrich your life, it is a decision to be taken seriously. Animals require care and attention, so it is important to consider whether or not your family has the time and resources needed for the pet you choose. If pet ownership isn’t right for you and your family, consider other ways to connect with animals. You can enjoy some of the benefits by pet sitting, dog walking, or volunteering for an animal rescue organization.
 
     As always, if you have any questions or concerns about integrating a pet into your home OR a newborn into your already pet friendly family, please feel free to contact your provider. We are always happy to offer help or advice.
 
The Dos and Don’ts of Kids and Pets

Do

  • Make sure your pets get regular checkups at the vet and are fully vaccinated.
  • Get your family in the habit of washing their hands after contact with an animal, including your pet
  • Teach kids to be gentle with pets
  • Teach kids to step away calmly (and not run) when an animal is overenergetic

Don’t

  • Let your child tease or corner an animal
  • Play games that teach pets to play rough with kids, especially infants
  • Leave newborns or young children alone with pets
  • Let kids bother animals while they are eating or playing with a chew toy
  • Yell at your pets as they adjust to life with a new family member
Resources and further reading:
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/all-around/Pages/Safety-Around-Animals.aspx
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Before-Choosing-a-Pet.aspx
http://www.parents.com/parenting/pets/kids/pets-good-for-kids/
https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/children-with-early-contact-with-dogs-and-cats-are-healthier.aspx
http://www.healthedeals.com/blog/healthy-kids-have-pets

  

Posted: 5/29/2017 8:39:46 PM by Stapleton Peds | with 0 comments


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