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Children Growing Up With Pets Are Healthier

Children who grow up with a dog are healthier than those who do not. Having a dog provides children with a sense of belonging, a pal to come home to and a quiet friend who comforts during times of need.

However, the decision to own a pet is a major one and with today’s economy tightening the belt for many middle-class families, having a dog may not be in the budget.

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As a child, wanting a dog or a cat was often met with resistance from my mother who would let me know how expensive owning one would be. She also lacked time to take up the extra work. She had lost a dog to old age before, and quite frankly she didn’t want to own a dog ever again.

As a kid, I wondered how expensive could a dog or cat be? They needed food, water and a great bed to sleep in. There are lots of great reasons to own a dog. Dogs provide emotional support, teach empathy, provide companionship and their protective nature alerts a person when a stranger is nearby.

It’s best to own a pet when you are financially stable and able to take time to train. Dogs who are left home alone for long periods of time can experience anxiety, sadness, and misbehave more when a tired owner arrives.

I never considered additional costs associated with animal ownership. Dogs and cats also need vaccinations, dental cleaning, grooming and sometimes boarding when their owners travel and can’t take the family pet with them.

The first year of owning a pet is substantial. In fact, the average cost of owning a dog runs around $1500 a year. Factor in an additional 45-55 dollars for health insurance or if you don’t, a pet health crisis can cost a minimum of 500 dollars.

Fostering a pet can be a fun way to invite a furry friend into the house without making a large commitment. Most non-profit organizations welcome families who are willing to open their home to a dog and provide the food, medical attention, and training until the dog is placed into a forever home. The negative side to this is when a child gets attached to a dog, which can lead to foster parenting failures – a family who adopts the dog they planned to let go. However, some children may find it delightful to care for different dogs in transition. This can be a cost effective alternative to pet ownership, giving parents the budget break they need, and children a health boost that is rooted in science.

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About Aria Gmitter

Aria Gmitter writes about parenting and political matters affecting the family.


  1. “Children who grow up with a dog are healthier than those who do not.”

    Wow, some generalization, and without any evidence!

    “Having a dog provides children with a sense of belonging, a pal to come home to and a quiet friend who comforts during times of need.”

    Probably true in some, perhaps many, cases, but so what? It certainly doesn’t justify the generalization in the first sentence.

    I have nothing against dogs, quite the opposite, but let’s at least be logical in our assertions.

  2. I agree – fostering a dog is a great way to see how well it works for a family. In many communities, there are low cost options for spay/neuter and immunizations that help reduce the expense of owning a dog. One additional benefit of dog ownership was highlighted in a study done at Johns Hopkins. In households with indoor/outdoor dogs that bring in microscopic allergens from the earth on their paws and the air on their coats, children in these homes did not suffer from allergies.
    The study however said that cats did not confer the same benefits.

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