A companion animal, such as a dog, cat, bird or rabbit, can offer more than love and affection. A pet can reduce loneliness, and provide comfort and friendship. Pets often are considered members of the family. Dr. Angela Mattke, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician, offers some advice when thinking about bringing home a new pet.
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There's something special about seeing kids bonding with a pet. And there are benefits, too, says Dr. Mattke.
"It (having a pet) can teach kids about responsibilities."
Having a dog, for example, can teach children about boundaries and respect. But before bringing home a pet, Dr. Mattke says there are some considerations.
"The type of pet that you're going to be bringing into the family is really important," says Dr. Mattke. "It's important to have these conversations and discussions before you get the pet, instead of having buyer's remorse later when you figure out that this might not be a good option for your family."
Also, does anyone in the family have allergies? Pet hair isn't an allergen, but the dander or saliva may cause allergic reactions for some people.
"You want to make sure that you’re getting a pet that's not going to make your child's or somebody else in the family's health adversely affected from it," says Dr. Mattke.
Ask the questions, talk with the family, and be ready for a lifetime of responsibility and joy.
"Having a family pet can be a wonderful experience for families," says Dr. Mattke.