If you have young kids, the best thing you can do for them is to bring home a pet. Having a dog or cat around has a whole bunch of positives for the mental and physical well-being of young people. Aside from teaching your children how to care for a pet and be responsible for another living creature, you will be helping them grow up to be healthier.
Having a Pet is Beneficial for Your Child
As the expert folks at OneGreenPlanet advise, kids in a household with a dog have a 31% lower chance of respiratory infections, and a better-developed immune system. As kids learn how to care for a pet, they develop higher levels of self-confidence, and develop empathy and compassion for their furry friend. Psychologists have also noted that kids with autism, other related disorders, and ADHD typically have lower blood pressure if they have a pet. Such kids are also able to develop better cognitive powers and can communicate more effectively thanks to dog therapy. Having a pet around also makes children more secure.
Pet Owners Need to Be Aware of the Possibilities of Allergies
While having a pet is no doubt great for the development and well-being of the kids (and, adults) of the family, you may want to watch out for allergies. Research has shown that at least 15% of people are allergic to pets. And, these allergies are a result of a protein secreted by saliva and dead skin cells. The protein can cling for a long time to the pet’s fur and also to drapes, mattresses, carpets, and any kind of clothing. So, if you have a child who has been showing symptoms of sensitivity, here are the steps to take:
- Veterinarians advise that you remove the dirt and dander or skin cells from your pet’s fur using the right tools like, for instance, the pet brush by ForBabs. Brushes like these reach down into the fur and remove the accumulated dirt and allergens that cling to the removable sheets in the brush. Loose fur can also be removed by brushing your pet’s coat regularly.
- When understanding how to care for a pet, check with your vet for directions on how often you can safely bathe your dog. You may also want to choose the right anti-allergen shampoos.
- Wash your pet’s bedding regularly and consider replacing it every few months. The local pet’s store may carry special detergents formulated for removing allergens. Use these products in place of regular soaps.
- Opt for a dog breed that has shorter hair or one that is less likely to cause allergies. For instance, Afghan hounds, poodles, Schnauzers, or Chinese crested dogs.
- Get a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter that is more effective in removing up to 99.97% fine particles and allergens. Only make sure to empty the dust bag outside your home.
- Given that both kids and adults are prone to getting seasonal allergies like, for instance, during shedding phases, create pet-free zones in your home. Steer your pet away from certain rooms of the house where you can put your child if she starts to show sensitivity.
Involve Your Children in Doing Pet Chores
Like this article in the Parenting magazine outlines, children of all ages can learn how to care for a pet. Make sure to assign age-appropriate duties and explain why it is essential to do the chore on time. You could also take turns with your kids so they can watch and learn how to be responsible. Here are some of the chores you can safely assign to young kids under strict supervision of course:
- Filling pet dishes with water and food
- Putting away the pet’s toys
- Helping with grooming, brushing, and bathing depending on the pet’s size, required care, and temperament (If your pet doesn’t like being bathed, you may want to exclude your children from the activity.)
- Exercising and walking the pet
- Cleaning cages and pet bedding
Observe Strict Health and Safety Precautions When Managing a Pet Around Children
Having made the decision to adopt a dog or cat, you may want to spend time with the vet understanding how to care for a pet. More important, ask your vet how to manage the animal around your kids. Remember, you’re dealing with an animal, and no matter how well you train it, accidents can happen. Read this publication on the Harvard Health Publishing for some important factors to keep in mind around pets.
- Choose a breed with an inherent gentle nature.
- Check with the pound for the maximum size the pet can grow to. It is advisable to have smaller dogs in a household with young kids because pets grow a lot faster than kids.
- As part of your training your kids on how to care for a pet, you must teach them to treat the animal respectfully and gently.
- Take the pet to the vet for regular checkups and vaccinations.
- Inculcate the habit of washing hands after touching the pet.
- Allowing your child to learn how to care for a pet is a good thing, but never leave your children alone in the company of the animal.
- You can catch infections from a pet through bacteria in its saliva when it is licking you or when the pet nips affectionately. Sometimes, an inadvertent scratch can also result in the transmission of germs. The best way to avoid such infections is to restrict your pet’s contact with other animals outside of your home.
- In case of a nip or scratch, wash the area with soap and water and keep a close watch for redness and swelling.
- Check your pet for fleas and ticks regularly.
- Get your pet spayed or neutered.
- Train your pet not to lick the kids’ faces or hands.
- Create a space for your pet where it can be alone and remain undisturbed.
Adopting a pet for your kids is a good thing and has many positives. However, respect the fact that you’re bringing home an animal and animals can be unpredictable. Take the necessary precautions, and you can raise a pet and kids in the same home safely.