Pets and Children

Research supports the idea that children benefit physically, emotionally and socially from regular contact with companion animals.

Children often prefer to share their feelings and emotions with a pet, rather than with another person.

Contact with companion animals has been shown to be important in several areas of child development and health – for example, in promoting self-esteem and encouraging the development of humane attitudes, such as empathy and nurturing.

Studies have also demonstrated the importance of pets offering social support particularly during transitional periods such as during adolescence or periods of family illness or breakdown.

  • iStock_000010073664_ExtraSmallLead to greater fitness and higher levels of physical activity
  • Result in more stable immune systems (particularly between the ages of five and eight)
  • Provide comfort during recovery and rehabilitation
  • Teach nurturing skills
  • Lead to a lower incidence of hay fever and asthma, with less likelihood to develop allergies to animals, if children are exposed to pets during the first year of life

School pets have been found to:

  • Motivate pupils to think and learn
  • Foster a sense of responsibility in children
  • Improve academic achievement
  • Lead to greater school attendance rates
  • Stimulate social integration and social competence