When your kids are begging for a dog, cat, hamster, goldfish, or to keep whatever followed them home, think before you automatically say no. Pets can actually help keep children healthy.

Here are some ways how and reasons why pets can be good for your kids.

Physical Health

These days, there is a lot of talk about childhood obesity and other health pr

oblems children face. Children tend to be more sedentary in this modern era of television, computers, and video games. Some pets, especially dogs, can encourage children to be more active and therefore healthier. If you own a dog, you have a good reason to take the family on hikes and walks. And dogs enjoy playing ball, fetching sticks, and even swimming.

Cats can help kids be more active, too. Playing with a cat can be really fun and amusing for kids. They can run around the house trailing a piece of string and the cat will follow, pursuing the string. Some cats will even go on walks or hikes with the family. A cat that is allowed outdoors can encourage your child to go out, too, to play with the cat or watch it as it goes about its cat business.

Emotional Health

Dogs love to love, and that can be a real boost to a child’s self-esteem and sense of happiness. The non-judgmental nature of a pet can be very soothing for a child who is having trouble in school, with peers, or just having a bad day. Loving, furry interaction is good for mind and body.

Pets reduce stress, and therefore stress-related illnesses like heart disease and digestive disorders are reduced when people own a pet. Even watching goldfish in a bowl or tank has a calming, soothing effect.

Depression is another disorder that pet ownership can keep at bay. Both small and large animals offer this benefit. Children find the presence of animals soothing, and their pet is always happy to see them.

Academic Performance

Children who have pets in the home tend to do better in school, especially in the language arts. Social skills and speech aptitude are often greater in children who have pets.


Animals can help children socialize. If a child has a hard time talking or interacting with other kids, having a pet with him or her can help break the ice and open a door for interaction. All the other kids want to look at the pet, and the shy child can tell everyone about the pet.


Taking responsibility for a pet is a healthy thing for a child to do. Whether it’s a tropical fish, hamster, rabbit, or German Shepherd, a child can learn a lot about accomplishment and satisfaction from taking care of his or her own pet.

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