The Cleveland Browns’ Dawg Pound (in endzone bleacher seats) isn’t our first choice for where to take little kids on a Sunday afternoon. On many occasions, those fans make English soccer hooligans look like Boy Scouts. But taking your child to an actual dog pound (or animal shelter) is a great idea, especially if he or she is having a tough time because of a divorce, a family move or the extended absence of a parent.
A recent study from Tufts University found that kids in military families with a deployed parent exhibit significantly higher stress levels than other kids. However, when researchers conducted youth-development evaluations, which measure qualities like responsibility, resiliency and self-confidence, kids from military families with pets scored better than military kids without pets.
We bet a lot of children could gain the same positive benefits, especially those dealing with family upheaval, those on the autism spectrum or those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The bonding, love and routine that come with having a pet soothe emotions and provide a sense of security. And there’s a physical health bonus, too: Many studies show that having a pet can lower blood pressure, ease pain, slash the risk of allergies in kids and promote a healthier lifestyle.
So if your family is dealing with some tough times and it’s taking a toll on your kids, consider a visit to the ASPCA to discuss bringing home a bundle of joy (and responsibility). The two benefits go paw in paw.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.