Five Ways Pets Are Great for ChildrenResearch has shown time and again that animals are good for kids. Here’s why.
My wife and I raised our two children in an animal-rich environment. Dogs, cats, horses, and more -- our children always had animals in their lives.
Since I'm a practicing veterinarian that's probably not a surprise. But what may come as news to you is that children are better off with animals in their lives. And that's not just the animal lover in me talking; that's the scientist.
The Benefits of Pets to Kids
Research has shown time and again that animals are good for kids. Here's why.
Pets may prevent allergies. An increasing body of research shows that being raised with pets not only helps prevent allergies to animals but also to other allergy triggers, such as ragweed. Who wants to decrease the odds of a lifetime of sniffling and wheezing? Everyone! This doctor's advice: keep your pet.
Pets may help prevent obesity. We all know that the United States has an obesity problem and that children are now diagnosed with many of the health problems once seen only in overweight adults. Part of the problem, we're told, is that children aren't active enough; they'd rather play video games than go outside and play real ones. But an Australian study suggests that children with family dogs were less likely to be overweight or obese. This is probably because they play together -- and not Wii.
Pets may improve grades. Another body of work suggests that children with pets have an advantage when it comes to science, in part because they enter school with observations of animals that give them a foundation on which to build. And children who practice reading to dogs -- a popular program nationwide -- improve their reading skills dramatically because dogs listen without criticism or correction and encourage interaction.
Pets teach responsibility. My children grew up caring for animals (and caring about them, too, of course), and I think it taught them a great deal about thinking about the needs of others. Responsibility is a tricky subject, though, and can become a tug-of-war between parents who want children to handle animal care and kids who don't want to be nagged about their chores.
I always recommend that the primary responsibility for pets stays with parents and that the role of children in caring for their animals be matched with what's appropriate for their children's ages. In other words, don't expect a first-grader to remember to clean and fill a water dish every day. Older children can handle harder tasks, and some will relish the chance to take on more in caring for their pets. Encourage them in their grown-up behavior.
Pets teach unconditional love. This is the one benefit of having pets that everyone knows. Pets are always there for children, never need a reason to listen, and never criticize. Growing up can be difficult, and many times children just need to talk and be listened to. There's nothing better for that than a purring cat or a tail-wagging dog. To pets, children are always perfect just the way they are.
A Personal Note
My daughter is now raising her own child with the same respect for and love of animals her mother and I raised her with. I'm proud of her, and I'm delighted to show off this little video of my granddaughter's first words. As you can see, Reagan's siblings are dogs and her first words? A bark! What can I say? In our family we love our pets!
pics, advice, info and stories for pet lovers
They lay, they play, and they take selfies with supermodels. Meet 5 of the most social media-savvy pets—animals taking control of their own fashionable online image.
A recent study shows why
Not many leading ladies have four legs, lots of hair and, well, dog breath. But that hasn’t stopped Chris Naka from posing alongside office pooch Wrigley in a series of pictures recreating iconic scenes from romantic movies. Naka, 30, told Today that the fun began when he and his creative coworkers at the Blue Man Group in Chicago decided to use the last few minutes of their lunch break to pose their boss’ dog with him in a scene from Titanic. And an idea was born. “Someone printed a bunch of our early pictures, posted them in the green room, and folks from all over the theater started sending emails with movie suggestions,” he said. Check out some of their funny (and bizarre) pictures here.
We talked to 122 veterinary professionals and got their take on which canines are the smartest of them all.
This year, Animal Planet is pulling out all the stops for Puppy Bowl X. The tenth-anniversary extravaganza promises penguin cheerleaders, canine first responders singing the National Anthem, and special appearances by Lil Bub and Keyboard Cat, who will be performing a piano-filled rendition of Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” during the kitten halftime show. Best of all, continuing the tradition of showcasing adoptable pets, all the puppy players are up for adoption or have already found forever families. We’re hoping that the pups are watching themselves on TV from the comfort of their new homes. The main event starts at 3 p.m. EST on February 2 on Animal Planet. As you wait for the most anticipated event of the season, check out the starting lineup of some of our favorite Puppy Bowl players. And be sure to head to the Animal Planet site later this month to create your own Puppy Bowl fantasy league. Out of 11 all-star puppies, participants will be able to pick a fantasy team of three players.
Walter the otter is settling into his new home
We recently listed the top five smartest dog breeds as chosen by veterinary professionals, and, unsurprisingly, our readers were quick to comment on other breeds that show enormous intelligence. Now we're sharing another result from that survey of 122 veterinary professionals. We aren't going to say "least intelligent" because all dogs have their own kind of genius, right? But we will say that in the opinion of the surveyed veterinary professionals, the breeds named here aren't necessarily known for their cleverness even if they are known for having many wonderful characteristics. Of course, please know that in no way are we saying these dogs aren't smart or aren't trainable. They just might not keep up with the Border Collie in their obedience class. And that's OK — whether our pets sit at the front of the class or flunk out of puppy school, we love them just the same.
Typically, cats don't rush up and bombard you with kisses like some dogs, but many do display genuine friendliness. Happy-to-be-with-you cats range from the demure lap lounger to the chatty feline who escorts you from room to room. Vetstreet shines the spotlight on nine feline breeds with stellar reputations for thoroughly enjoying the company of their favorite people.
Do you find it hard to sit still? Would you rather spend your time running and playing and working outdoors instead of lounging at home on the couch? If so, you may have met your match in these breeds. We polled 122 veterinary experts to get their opinions on which dog breeds are the most energetic. Here are the five that received the most votes!
Are cats an acquired taste?
Researchers say invention can tell you what your dog is thinking.