The Benefits of Pets

How Pets Build Family Bonds

One of the biggest benefits of having pets is often unexpected, even for parents who grew up around animals: They can help families grow stronger and closer. "Whenever I ask children and parents if their pets are truly part of the family, most of them seem surprised -- and almost offended -- at the question," Dr. Melson says. The most common response: "Of course they are!"

A pet is often the focus of activities that families do together. Everyone takes the dog for a walk, or shares in grooming and feeding him, or gets down on the floor and plays with him. There are even benefits from simply watching a cat chase his tail or a fish swim in his tank. Spending time like this offers the wonderful potential of slowing down the hectic pace of modern life. If someone asks what you've been doing, you might respond "nothing." And in this era of overscheduled children and parents who are constantly on the go, "nothing" can be an important thing to do.

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Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the March 2008 issue of Parents magazine.


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