Pets are the best! Whether you have a dog, cat, ferret, bird, fish, reptile, rodent or something else, there’s no end of fun and affection with a family pet.
As a vet, I’ve treated thousands of animals and I’ve seen first-hand the many benefits of pet ownership that families enjoy.
Pet benefit #1: responsibility
Pets are a great way to teach children the responsibility of caring for another living being. Even young children can help with grooming and feeding pets. And any child who’s pulled a cat’s tail and suffered a scratch will soon learn that their actions have consequences – a good lesson for children to learn at an early age.
Pet benefit #2: the circle of life
It’s a sad fact that we humans will most likely outlive our pets. So often the first death in a child’s life may be that of a beloved pet. Whilst children can be devastated by the loss, it can teach them to be grateful for the time they had together. A small time of grief is well worth the price to pay for many years of love and joy that a pet brings. Children who have suffered the death of a pet may be more resilient with their grief as they grow up and suffer the deaths of friends or family.
Pet benefit #3: health benefits
Families with pets are healthier! Dogs need daily walks, which force the family to get out each day – even just playing with the dog in the backyard can be great active family fun. While cats don’t need walking, they too bring health benefits to their owners – studies show owners of cats enjoy less stress, better heart health and even better sleep.
Pet benefit #4: fun and love
Pets love you no matter what. Pets never let you down, break a promise or speak a cross word. Unlike a relationship with our fellow human beings, the love between a pet and its family is simple and uncomplicated. This makes pets great to be around for any member of the family – pets are often the ones to cheer us up after a particularly bad day, simply by being themselves.
Pet benefit #5: companionship
Children can suffer tough times at school, so the companionship of a pet can be a boost to their self-esteem if they are struggling. A dog will rush to the door to greet a child coming home from school, while a cat will show affection and perhaps sit on their lap for a cuddle. Pets are capable of giving children (and adults) wonderful affection and companionship that can boost their spirits.
Pet benefit #6: living the simple life
Dogs love nothing more than a ball to chase, while cats enjoy a snooze in the afternoon sun, birds love to play with their mirror while other pets enjoy a food treat… pets can really teach us an attitude of gratitude. Pets love the simple things in life, and their ability to simply enjoy themselves with a toy or take care of themselves with a nap teach us all to slow down and enjoy life the way our pets do. Not with gadgets or material possessions, but by taking time to have fun and enjoy ourselves.
About the Author
Dr Shane Simpson is a vet with over twenty years’ experience. He is based in Frankston, Victoria, where he works at Karingal Vet Hospital, where he specializes in surgery, ultrasonography and reptile care. He is the proud owner of a few pythons, a bloodhound dog and even a few dragons.