Johannesburg SPCA

Five reasons children should grow up with dogs (or cats)

Five reasons children should grow up with dogs (or cats)

Every child deserves a puppy or a kitten – for more reasons than just the obvious.

While owning a pet is a responsibility, the benefits of living with happy, well-socialised animals are numerous – especially for children. 

1. Pets teach a life lesson in responsibility and compassion 

Instilling a love of animals and how to care for them (under responsible adult supervision, of course) teaches children an important life lesson in responsibility. 

Caring for a pet teaches children to be more compassionate and to be more selfless. In addition, caring for a pet builds self-esteem. For young children small tasks, such as filling up their pet’s water bowl, will give them a sense of accomplishment.

2. Children who grow up with animals are healthier

Various international studies in paediatric health have concluded that children who lived with pets (but especially dogs) during their first year of life had a better immune system than those who did not.

It is believed that exposure to dogs may have positively boosted the maturation of their immune system during infancy. In addition, when children with dogs did fall ill, they seemed to need a shorter course of antibiotics compared to children who did not live with pets.

3. They have fewer allergies

Studies have also found that children with a predisposition of respiratory allergies or asthma (stemming from at least one parent) were much less likely to develop similar issues if they they had a dog in the house. The studies found that early exposure was vital for the children to benefit most. 

4. They are more active 

Dogs understand the importance of exercise and are experts at getting their humans to play! Studies have shown that children who grow up with dogs are more active and some experts even believe dog ownership can help to combat childhood obesity. 

5. They are less anxious 

Studies have found that children with dogs in the home had reduced anxiety levels. It is believed that children who interact with dogs have increased levels of oxytocin released to their brain.

Adapted from an article published on

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