When you decide to bring a pet into your home, you’re making a commitment for its entire life. While it’s a big responsibility, pets have been proven to improve the quality of our lives in many ways. However, before you head to the pet store or start searching on the Internet for your next best friend, be sure that you and any other members of the household are prepared for the commitment ahead. Consider things like the size of your family, your living space and the pet’s potential growth or adulthood size.
Some pet owners may also consider how the pet will interact with any other pets or children you have at home. While some pets are great for families with small children, others may be too large or energetic to safely play or be handled by rambunctious kids. Similarly, a dog that has always been the sole focus of attention in your home might not appreciate having to share his or her love with another member of the family, especially if that family member is elderly or has physical limitations.
Pets provide a unique opportunity to teach your kids about emotional relationships and about how to treat living creatures with care. Depending on the age of your children, it might be a good idea to wait until they are developmentally ready for the responsibility of owning a pet, which can begin around age 5. In addition to teaching them how to take care of an animal, pet ownership also helps develop a sense of responsibility, which is a valuable life skill.
In addition to being a source of affection and companionship, pets are often used for therapeutic purposes. Studies have shown that autistic people benefit from the kind of unconditional relationship that a pet provides, and that pets can help them to build confidence and social skills. Pets can also be useful in calming children who have difficulty with sensory stimulation, such as the way that certain textures feel against their skin or how loud a particular noise can be.
Bringing a pet into your home comes with the risk that it will carry germs that can make you or your children sick. While the likelihood of getting a disease from a pet is relatively low, there are some precautions that everyone in the family should take, such as regularly washing their hands.
Despite the fact that most people who own pets get positive health benefits, it’s important to keep in mind that some animals who are bred and sold as “pets” are subjected to unrelenting suffering. Some of these animals are abducted from their homes in nature and transported all over the world, while others are raised in warehouses where they are often denied proper food, water, shelter, veterinary care and attention.