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In case you missed it, this past Sunday was National Kids & Pets Day. According to pet lifestyle expert Colleen Paige, who created the special day: “National Kids & Pets Day is dedicated to furthering the magical bond between children and animals, to help bring awareness to the plight of pets in shelters awaiting new homes and educating the public about safety between children and pets.”

Having a pet in the family is a personal choice, of course, but children can benefit from pets in many ways. In addition to being lots of fun, pets can also:

Provide a source of emotional and physical comfort
• Help boost a child's confidence and self-esteem
• Support a connection to nature and a respect for living things
• Promote exercise with walks outside or interactive games
• Teach responsibility, especially to older kids who can help care for a pet

Health Benefits

In addition to the love and joy pets bring into our homes, did you know they can also improve your health? Over the years, studies have found that pets can boost our health in measurable ways.+

Stress Relievers

Nothing melts away the stress of a day like a warm snuggle from your pet. But it may be more than psychological relief. Research has revealed that pets can help lower blood pressure and anxiety levels.

Heart Helpers

Pets can have positive effects on our hearts. Studies have reported better survival rates for heart attack patients with pets and improved heart rate variability, which is an indicator of heart health.

Mental Boosters

Our furry pals may also combat depression. In studies, pet-assisted therapy helped reduce depression in chemotherapy patients, and pets reduced stress for people caring for loved ones with dementia.

Training Benefits

It is important for pets to receive consistent messaging during potty and obedience training. Which is why training time is also a perfect opportunity for your children to both contribute to your pet’s care and learn about leadership and bonding.

A fun game like hide-and-seek can help bolster your with your pet’s recall while teaching your child how to give a common command. Here are a few fun suggestions:

• Create a pet playground with discarded gift boxes and wrapping paper.
• Play hide-and-seek with your pet by hiding treats around the house.
• Practice a new trick, like speaking, shaking hands, or rolling over.
• Give your pet a treat-dispensing toy to knock around the house.
• Throw a small ball across the room for a good old-fashioned game of fetch.

And don't forget one of the best ways to bond — a good, long cuddle!

Not sure what type of pet you should add to your family? Check out this short video.

+ Sources: K. Arhant-Sudhir, R. Arhant-Sudhir, K. Sudhir, Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, 2011; C. Westgarth, BMC Veterinary Research, 2007; M. Orlandi, Anticancer Research, 2007; S. Lupien, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2010


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