7 Ways Kids Benefit From Having a Pet

Young girl feeding dog breakfast cereal at kitchen table, laughing

“Ah, mom and dad, can’t we get a pet?” is a familiar plea from kids around the world. Before automatically saying, “No,” parents should review seven ways kids can benefit from having a pet.

1. Teaches responsibility – Adding a pet to the family can provide opportunities to teach kids important work responsibilities. Give kids a list of daily and weekly chores, such as cleaning out the pet cage or litter box, keeping water dishes clean and filled, helping a parent buy pet food, and feeding the pet each day.

2. Decreases allergies Studies show that kids who grow up with pets are less likely to develop allergies and asthma, and better able to fight off flu and cold viruses.

3. Improves academics – If kids are reluctant to read aloud in school, encourage them to read to their pet. Research shows that kids are more willing to read to their pets because they consider them non-judgmental friends. In the course of reading to Lucy or Bailey, kids will become better readers and more confident in reading to kids in class.

4. Provides comfort, lowers depression – Growing up can be tough. Kids are laughed at over the smallest of things. Coming home to a friendly pet can make the day better. Pets offer unconditional love, so kids find it easy to tell them about their struggles and fears. Kids also feel less depressed and lonely.

5. Encourages family bonds – Siblings can develop a special bond as they work together to take care of the family pet.

6. Reduces anxiety – Petting and playing with a pet can decrease kids’ fears. They are more willing to tackle homework assignments, study for tests, or deal with difficult personal experiences.

7. Keeps kids active – Most kids spend hours every day with their digital devices. Help kids develop healthier habits by sending them outside to run, bike or play games with the family pet.

Reader’s Digest
Psychology Today