Child Care, Social & Emotional Development

Should you keep pets when planning a family?

Note: The contents in this post are based on my experiences and views, I am sure there are people out there who have had their own share of events. I request my readers not to be judgmental about it, instead share your stories in the comment box below, I would be happy to hear from you. 

Coming from an extended family, where other than a fish tank, we did not keep any other animals. So to say, my grandparents despised them, be it a dog, cat or any other fluffy creature. No matter how cute or lovey- dovey the animal is, it was a strict, No! When it came to us (i.e. my mom, dad and sister)…Mom and I stayed away from animals, we were afraid of dogs,cats or any other animal in general. Whereas, my father and sister, loves animals. To the extent that, if my father was given a choice for a pet, he would prefer a lion cub to a dog or a cat… Anytime! Yup, I have had my fair share of incidents with dogs, it’s not that I did not want to get closer to one, it’s just that they could sense my fear or should I say, I just did not know how to approach them. My mom never liked them, that’s all.

Surprisingly, I married a man who had two at first, and then four dogs. My in laws, were big time animal lovers. I am grateful, for entering such a beautiful family, that my fear of dogs, slowly got conquered with adoration and full of love, to the point where they have become a part of my life. Best part is, my mom got used to it too…Yippee! (she had no choice )

Anyways, carrying on, when it came to family planning, there were so many questions that stressed me out regarding pets and that’s what I am going to talk about in this post. Although, I love my dogs so much, that I had to draw a line, it wasn’t easy but we had to. We had a talk with tour family doctor and also took second opinions from other experts, had a word with my gynecologist and also had a talk with our vet and from what I see, few say, its fine to have pets at home, dogs are safe and to stay away from cats. Whereas, some say to stay away from animals altogether. From what I see, there are pros and cons for having pets especially when planning a family. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to take that chance when pregnant. Pregnancy, is different for every woman, so depending on how a woman’s body is at that time, she should decide is it safe for her to be around pets.

When it comes to children and animals, homes with pets are more lively and fun. Children who connect with pets develop certain qualities that are surprisingly beautiful to look at. The question is when to introduce your child to your pet? There are certain guidelines, if followed, you can have a great family time with your child and pet, starting from infancy;

Keep the pet away from your baby’s room

Children can be introduced to pets from their infant years, but it is very important to take precautions and care, when doing so. Remember your pet is getting an unexpected surprise, introducing your baby calls for startling reactions, better to be safe, than sorry.

Vaccinations and de-worming your pets

Ensure your pet gets its vaccinations and de-worming done periodically. You will have to talk with your vet regarding your pet and things to be done before welcoming your baby home.

Maintain a good hygiene

If you have a pet and an infant at home, it’s important to groom your pet daily, to cut down hair fall, and to avoid lint on clothes and furniture. When caring for your baby ensure, you disinfect your hands. Try avoiding as much as lint you can from sticking to your clothes.

My advice is to keep your child away from pets until he/she reaches 1 year, as toddlers are in their growing years,they are prone to infections easily, its’s best to keep your pets away from your child’s room. When your child reaches 3-4 years of age, introducing your furry friend should be followed by constant monitoring of your child and pet. Children tend to pull the tail, poke, etc. as they are at a stage of exploring, some pets tend to get irritated and react, so to avoid incidents it’s best to keep a close eye on your little one.

If you are planning to get a pet at home, wait till your child reaches an age to handle animals, then go ahead and care for a pet at home. If you plan to introduce the child to a pet, start with a small animal like, a rabbit, hamster, bird or a fish, they are safer and tend to roam in their given territory.

Children raised with pets show many benefits. Developing positive feelings about pets can contribute to a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Positive relationships with pets can aid in the development of trusting relationships with others.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

how does a furry friend help your child?

The child shows conclusive personality traits

Many studies have found that, children who have pets at home develop positive personality traits like, compassion, empathy, friendship and are able to express and comprehend non- verbal communication. Having a pet at home, improves the child’s mental health.

The child develops a sense of responsibility

With the help of parents, children can be taught how to care for a pet, from its, hygiene, to diet, exercise, etc. Doing so, gives the child the experience of being responsible for another life. As a parent, you need to always direct your child towards the care and necessities of your pet. Showing them the little things for their pet animal, goes a long way. You will be surprised by the initiatives your child would start taking to care for his/her loved animal. Playing with pets, enhance the child’s physical activity and aids in the physical development of the child.

Learning important life lessons

A pet teaches, the child to deal with life experiences like birth, illness, death and as parents we need to teach the child to overcome their emotions. Example, when your pet falls sick, through parents guidance, the child learns and comprehends the situation, lending a helping hand for their loving pet’s recovery.

Caring for an animal, teaches children to be loving and kind to living creatures and they grow up to be compassionate and warm- hearted human beings.

You can judge a man’s true character by the way he treats his fellow animals.

Paul McCartney


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