Pets and Healthy Child Development

It is a widely-held belief that relationships with animals are beneficial to children, and that they can help children to develop empathy and concern for others. Research supports this belief, and has demonstrated that children who form strong bonds with a pet are more empathic112,113 and have stronger pro-social orientations47 than children who do not own pets.

Studies have found "dog" and "cat" to be some of the most frequently occurring words in infants’ vocabularies114. These findings provide support for the existence of an innate human interest in animals, and demonstrate the power of animals to motivate and stimulate children’s interest in learning.