5 benefits of having a family pet

Introducing a furry friend into your brood can be a positive experience for both adults and children alike. Find out how having a pet can benefit your family.

By Christa Connell

Top 2 benefits of having a pet
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Getting a family pet can be a rite of passage for growing children, but pets have a lot to offer the rest of the family as well. There is a wide variety of animals to choose from, with each one offering its own love and unique personality to any lucky family. Although animals come with a great deal of responsibilities, these duties can provide some important lessons for families with young children.

For some expert input into how animals can enrich your family's life, we spoke with Barbara Steinhoff, communications manager at the Toronto Humane Society.

1. Pets can bring the family together in making decisions
There are few times when children get to be involved in making big decisions for the family, and having a pet makes for many decisions that a family can make together.

"It's everyone's responsibility. That pet loves everyone in the family," says Steinhoff. "Everybody pitches in. Mom and Dad may take on the majority, but there is a role for children as well, and I think it's a great way to bond as a family."

Even the process of deciding on what kind of animal the family should get can be a great bonding experience. Steinhoff encourages families to go to the animal shelter together when choosing a pet so the best fit can be determined.

2. Pets are natural stress relief
Pets can be a great stress relief for Mom and Dad, too. With parents working full time and being pulled in many different directions, a cuddle with a cat, dog or other furry companion is more beneficial than you think.

"Animals are incredibly instinctive, so if you're having a bad day, if you're not well, you'll find that they'll be right there with you, showing you this empathy that is incredible," explains Steinhoff. "We react to it, not necessarily consciously, but your mind and your body just see this thing looking at you and you relax."

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