by: Beezy Marsh, Daily Mail
Children who keep pets are healthier and more emotionally balanced, expert have found. The majority of youngsters regard their pet as a playmate and friend who can be a source of comfort when they feel sad.
And exposure to cats and dogs in the first year of life makes them less likely to suffer allergies.
The power of pets emerged in a series of research studies due to be reported at the Society of Companion Animal Studies conference in Leicester.
Health Psychologist Dr. June McNicholas, of the University of Warwick, studied 338 children aged three to 14 to examine the emotional benefits of pet ownership.
A total of 85 per cent said they regard their pets as friends and 40 per cent said they would look for they pet if they were bored. A further 40 per cent sought out their pet if they were upset.
Susan Dawson, a researcher in human Communications at Manchester Metropolitan University, has also carried out numerous studies into the benefits of pets.
‘From studies I have carried out backed up by case studies it becomes clear that pet ownership, or simply the chance to spend more time with pets, children can benefit a lot.’ she said. ‘they learn nurturing skills and are rewarded for their efforts.’
‘They are given unconditional warmth which can be reassuring and they actually seem more motivated to talk and describe their experiences.’
Some U.S. studies have suggested that children with pets actually fare better at school because they are more motivated.
A recent report by experts at the Medical College of Georgia showed that children could ‘significantly’ reduce their risk of allergies by pet ownership.
By the age of six, some children reduce their chances of getting hay fever or an allergic reaction to house dust mites by 75 per cent.
Doctors believe youngsters who are constantly licked by cats and dogs may be protected by every early exposureto bugs that live in the pets’ mou