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Pets have a place at the center of many families. Animals can benefit people in countless ways, but children often gain the most. If you’re thinking about bringing a pet into your home, consider your child’s age and personality, your family’s lifestyle and the needs and personality of the specific animal.

Benefits of Having Pets
Pets can have a calming effect on humans. In fact, petting an animal has been shown to help people manage stress and blood pressure. A pet can provide companionship and be a playmate for children.

Owning a pet can help kids learn responsibility, as well. Assigning chores such as feeding a cat or dog can teach kids to think about and tend to the needs of others. Having an older child clean the litter box can help him or her realize that the benefits and enjoyment of having a pet come with some unpleasant, but necessary, tasks. This simple lesson can help children be prepared when they grow up and have families of their own.

Playing with a pet or laughing at its funny antics can bring family members together. Sharing in the responsibilities of pet care can help siblings bond as they work toward a common purpose.

Choosing a Pet
If you already have a pet and you’re planning to have a baby, the animal might warmly welcome the child, and they could form an instant bond. If you have a child and you’re thinking about getting a pet, make sure it’s the right fit for your family.

The personalities of your child and the pet are critical factors to consider. A large, energetic dog might be fine for an older child, but a shy or anxious toddler could feel overwhelmed. A pet or child that’s aggressive could put the other at risk. An animal that was abused by a previous owner might be intimidated by a rambunctious, curious or affectionate child. It’s also possible that they could respond to each other with sensitivity and help one another grow. If possible, give your child and the animal an opportunity to interact before you bring the pet home.

If you’re considering welcoming a pet into your family, make sure it will fit your lifestyle. A dog that needs to be let outside frequently wouldn’t do well being left home alone all day. Having someone come to walk the dog could solve the problem, however, if that isn’t possible, consider a cat, hamster, fish or some other type of animal.

Is a Pet Right for Your Family?
Growing up with pets can teach kids patience, responsibility and compassion. Children and animals often form long-lasting bonds. If you’re thinking about getting a pet, consider your child’s age and personality, the amount of work that the pet would require and the characteristics of the animal to decide if it’s the right fit for your family.

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