What Are The Effects of Pets on Child Development?

There is no denying that owning a pet makes our lives better. Studies have shown that owning a pet improves both your mental and physical health. It should come as no surprise then that owning a pet also has a massive impact on the development of your child. Whether you own a goldfish, chicken, or dog, here are some of the ways that owning a pet can benefit your child:

Social Development

Having a pet in your home can help your child with their social development. Young children especially benefit from these relationships. Creating a bond with a pet allows them to develop important social and emotional skills including empathy and compassion. It also encourages them to create healthy relationships and social connections.

Emotional Health

The bond between your children and your pet is a special one. More often than not your child considers your pet to be one of their best friends. For that reason, it is not surprising that their presence affects your child’s emotional health. Studies have found that this special bond can help reduce feelings of separation anxiety and loneliness and increase self-esteem. An increase in self-esteem not only helps your child with relationships they have now, but in the future.


Learning how to be responsible is an important milestone for a child. Tasking your child with picking up the dog’s toys or feeding them provides them with an opportunity to be responsible. Providing children with responsibilities has also been shown to improve their ability to care for themselves and be independent.


While your pet certainly cannot read or write, they can help your child improve in these areas. Having a pet there for support while they learn can help children feel positively encouraged, and in turn increase their desire to learn.  Research has found that owning a pet can help children with not only their emotional development, but progress at school, and literacy and numeracy skills. In particular, dogs that visit classrooms have shown to be an extremely effective way of increasing academic performance.

Physical Health

The type of pet you own can also have a positive impact on your child’s physical health. Dogs, cats, rabbits, and horses are all pets that require regular exercise. Involving your child in the exercising of your pet increases their overall fitness. Whether it is walking the dog or throwing toys for a cat, every little bit helps. 

Overall, having a pet in your home not only improves your health but that of your child. Multiple studies have highlighted the social, emotional, behavioural, educational, and physical benefits that come from owning a pet.

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