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  • Ginny Weissman

Owning a dog tied to lowering your risk of dying early by 24%, says science




Pets offer the opportunity for different generations to connect, easing the way toward deeper communications, fostering healthy bonding and reducing loneliness. Pets foster connections that can continue as the child grows, such as through the use of social media. Some pets even have their own Facebook pages.

Exposing a child to animals during the first six months of life is linked to a reduced chance of asthma and allergies later in life. However, if an existing family member is allergic, having pets in the home can do more harm than good.

Children who grow up around farm animals, dogs or cats typically have stronger immune systems and a reduced risk of developing eczema. Baby animals teach children about the miracles of birth, and the responsibilities of caring for a tiny creature. The demise of a pet is also the first death experience for most children, providing a powerful teaching moment about love and loss. Providing pet therapy to children undergoing cancer is a common practice. Parents report children are happier, more social and more compliant with treatment after a visit with a furry friend. Reducing anxiety is a key benefit of therapy animals. Slinky the ferret came to University of New England's Portland campus with other small furry creatures to help relieve the stress of midterm exams for students.

Horse therapy is a proven method of therapy for children with autism, physical disabilities and mental and behavioral problems.

Pets bring joy to our lives (yes, dog lovers -- even cats). Need more proof than the gleeful smile on this child's face? A study from Indiana University found simply watching cat videos boosted energy and healthy positive emotions and decreased negative feelings.

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