Lassie and Scooby Doo clearly bring joy to the make-believe kids they live with. But your real kids can get real health benefits. Studies show that infants who live with dogs have fewer respiratory infections and less risk of developing asthma.
Though cats don’t reduce the risk of asthma, pets help strengthen the immune system, reduce stress (good for hyperactive kids) and get kids out walking and playing more often.
Here are some suggestions if you’re thinking about getting a pet: Never leave a child age three or younger alone with a cat or dog. Kids can’t control their impulsiveness and may provoke an animal. Don’t expect children younger than 10 to be able to really care for a pet.
Work with your children so that they learn how to treat the animal, feed and clean up, and provide discipline and training.
On the off chance that you bring home a pet and it makes your child uncomfortable or unhappy (occasionally, young kids find dogs scary or overwhelming), don’t feel defeated. Find the animal another good home and look into adopting a smaller pet, like a hamster.