How Pets Benefit Kids at Home

Apr 26, 2024

Girls on couch with puppy

Early in our marriage, Rob and I got to move into the family ranch house that his parents had built 20 years ago. Rob’s brother’s family had lived here before us and they graciously gifted us with the cat that came with the house (because they allegedly couldn’t find him when the moving truck had arrived 🙂)… named Pumpkin. Appropriate name for an orange cat, yes. However, Pumpkin is a white cat with black spots. They said their kids had named him and they just went with it, but I couldn’t get over that they would give such a misleading name to their cat. 

You may have guessed that we didn’t have kids at the time, and you are correct – hence my lack of understanding. Since then, I have learned to be content with Buma, Tesla, Tilley, White-White, Snow White, Lucky, Rainbow and whatever other names our kids might come up with for our cats. And I should note that while White-White is indeed the name of a white cat, “Rainbow” is an even more misleading name than Pumpkin had been, seeing as her fur contains not one color from the rainbow (unless you count the clouds at the end of one 🙃). 

Young girl holding cats

What are the benefits of having pets? 

All that to say, pets can add so much joy and happiness to your life. There are many studies done on the benefits of having pets. This article by the National Institute of Health shared a great overview of the power of pets, with a few key benefits highlighted below:

  • Provide companionship
  • Give a sense of purpose and meaning
  • Reduce loneliness
  • Increase socialization
  • Decrease stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Improve heart health
  • Help children with their emotional and social skills
  • Encourage exercise and playfulness

How can pets help kids at home? 

We have experienced most of these benefits firsthand from always having pets in our family – and I will add that another key benefit we are seeing is the way pets encourage kids to take on responsibility in the household. “Feeding the kitties” doesn’t feel like a chore for our daughters (since they would choose to spend any moment that they can holding, petting, playing with, and making forts for the cats), so it’s a nice way to incorporate daily tasks for young kids in your home. It also simplifies adding in the not-so-fun chores like taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher, etc. In addition to taking a few little tasks off your to-do list, giving your child little responsibilities greatly benefits their brain development. 

Little girl with cat and dog on rainy sidewalk

How to support my children’s brain development?

I read a book when our first child was born that references the way autonomy develops the “bridge” between the upstairs brain with the downstairs brain. To expand on those terms a bit:

  • Autonomy: i.e. allowing your child to feed the cat himself, even though it might not be the most efficient or neat way to do it
  • Upstairs brain: Logical, analytical, reasoning side
  • Downstairs brain: intuitive, emotional side

This connection between the two hemispheres of the brain is vital as our children mature, and allows for better decision-making, emotional control, and overall well-being.

Plus, trusting our kids with their own responsibilities builds their self-confidence as they realize you believe in them, which often encourages them to want to take on more responsibility. I highly recommend the book, The Whole Brain Child, written by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, to better understand the way our kids’ brains work. It is sweet and practical, filled with fresh ideas based on the latest neuroscience research. 

Young girl holding a kitten in front of flowers

Can I give colostrum to my pets?

As pet-lovers, we all want what’s best for our furry friends, and we have had quite a few customers ask if WonderCow colostrum is safe to give their pets. The answer is: Pawsitively! The antibodies, growth factors, and other nutrients that colostrum naturally contains may help your pet’s overall gut health and immune system in a similar way to your own body. You can try sprinkling the powder on their dry kibble, stirring into their wet food, or mixing into their water.

A testimonial for colostrum for pets

You are probably familiar with the way my husband and I have seen colostrum impact our own little family’s overall wellness– it’s the reason we are so passionate about WonderCow 🤗 But we have also seen the way colostrum has impacted the family of one of our dairy managers. They are a close family friend of ours, and they brought a beautiful German shepherd puppy home a few years ago. The day after they took her home, the pup started getting really sick– she was congested, barely taking breaths, and wasn’t moving. She wouldn’t even stand up, and wouldn’t eat or drink anything.

They took her to the local vet and learned that she had an often terminal virus called Canine Distemper. (I hadn’t been aware of all the viruses that puppies are prone to, but have learned that Distemper is worse than parvo, if you’ve heard of that – more info here). Statistics show that only about one in two dogs survive. And if they do survive, they usually have permanent, irreversible damage to their nervous system. 

Sick puppy

Our friend’s puppy Remi

Because distemper is extremely contagious and there was seemingly nothing they could do to help, their vet recommended that they should put the new pup down. Our friends knew the power of colostrum from years of experience on the dairy, and as a last resort they decided to give it a try for their sweet, helpless pup. They retrieved fresh colostrum from our dairy and fed it to their puppy every few hours for the rest of the day.

After giving their pup colostrum, the results changed their lives. 

By noon the next day, the pup had regained mobility and alertness; and within a week, she was completely restored. It has been five years since that day and that sweet German shepherd is healthy and thriving– with no damage to her nervous system. The family is so thankful for the way colostrum saved their puppy’s life!

Happy Germain Shepherd

Remi, 5 years later, happy and healthy

*I want to clarify that we greatly value medical professionals, doctors, and veterinarians – this story is not intended to put them down in any way, just to highlight the unprecedented power of colostrum.

Anyway, I wanted to answer a common question we’ve heard about giving colostrum to animals. Plus, offer some encouragement if you are on the fence about adding a furry friend to your family. Lastly, to inspire any parents who might want to add in some easy daily chores for their kids. And please let me know what comical names your kids have given your pets… We’d love some fresh ideas for Rainbow’s next litter!

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