If you have kids, the chances are that at some point they’ve asked if you can get a family pet. Pets are a lot of responsibility and looking after them can be time consuming, which makes many people hesitate. This is a good thing – nobody should rush into it if they can’t make that commitment – but it’s also important to consider the benefits a pet can bring to your home. Caring for and playing with a pet can really bring the family together. It can introduce a sense of vitality to your home and make everything more fun.

Helping children grow and learn

Pets make wonderful companions for children, ensuring that they will always have a loyal friend and helping them to bond with other children. They can also be great for teaching responsibility. Parents will need to supervise to make sure the pet’s needs are met, but as children get older, they can take over more and more of the care activities needed. This can help them grow more confident, as they realise they’re making a useful contribution. Encourage them to ask questions when you visit the vet, which can be a step towards getting them interested in finding out more about animals and lead them to improve their reading and research skills.

Improving your health

Animal companionship is known to improve emotional well-being and reduce the risk of stress and depression, which in turn boosts the immune system and helps you recover more quickly from illness. Cats and rabbits purr to help heal tiny fractures in their bones, and holding them when they’re purring is good for your bones too. Dogs, meanwhile, can be great for the health because they get you out and about and encourage you to be more active at home too. Playing with a dog can also help young children to improve their motor skills.

Dog care tips

Dogs need to be walked at last twice a day, and the more attention they get, the happier they are, though you should be careful to ensure that young children don’t upset them by grabbing their legs or pulling their tails. Deflea your dog regularly and brush his or her coat thoroughly to keep it in optimum condition. You can also get special chew treats designed to look after canine teeth.

Cat care tips

Because they like to do things for themselves, cats need a lot less than dogs to keep them happy, but a few toys will mean a lot to them – especially things they can climb, chase or roll around with. A scratching post is also a good idea, as it will please the cat and spare your furniture!

Looking after a pet may present a few challenges, but the rewards are considerable. Once you’ve spent some time with your pet, you’ll struggle to remember how you ever got along without. Your home will be full of love and laughter, and you’ll never have enjoyed family life as much.