Just like humans, furry family members need to have company, playmates and social interactions to be happy. Sometimes it's hard to remember that our family pets are animals first and family second. We typically look at the benefits of pets in homes from the standpoint of work and expense involved. But are there benefits to having more than one pet in the home?
Pets can enjoy having playmates. Dogs enjoy cats and cats can enjoy dogs. Growing together, animals can overcome barriers that would ordinarily make them snap and snarl at various other animal species. Animals living together in a home can often develop or create social experiences around those other animals. The experience may or may not be with their own species.
Pets can learn from other pets. Just like how children learn from older children, family and neighbors, your pets will learn from other pets in their environment. You will find that your pets often have better social habits when they spend their time with other well-mannered animals.
Pet dander may actually improve your immune system. Sid Kirchheimer, in Early Exposure Found to Reduce Later Risk in Children, indicates that despite the long-held belief that cats and dogs in the home could lead to childhood allergies, there's mounting evidence that the opposite may be true. Thomas Platts-Mills, MD, PhD, found that children growing up in homes with pets had less frequency of allergies to pets. The decreased frequency was most marked when the child was frequently exposed during the first two years of life.
Pets can reduce stress. Children reading to their parents, teacher or an adult typically experience an increase in their stress levels. Those same children experience a decrease in overall stress or anxiety levels when reading to a pet. "Curling up with a dog or cat, on the other hand, is a lot more appealing," sugggests Mary Renck Jalongo, author of The World of Children and Their Companion Animals.
Pets in homes provide comfort to ailing hearts. The hurts may be from a recent death, illness, or related to age. Animals, by their presence, increase advantageous hormone production that can help in healing. Multiple pets in a home can also bring comfort to each other during a time of loss. Children and parents frequently refer to their pets as family members and treat them as members of the family.
Pets can teach nurturing and caregiving abilities. Children are able to learn how to nurture and care for animals early in their lives. These habits can help them as they transition throughout their lives in relationships and social circles. Being around animals can teach kids how to help others in need.
Having multiple pets can provide peace of mind. Having multiple pets at home while you are working can bring peace of mind. You can rest assured that your pets will entertain each other while you are away. They are less likely to feel lonely during your absence and they can help keep each other company until you return.