Pets can be wonderful companions for a child with disabilities. Whether your child has a physical or mental disability, there are many benefits to having a pet – and plenty of different options to choose from depending on your needs. Below, we explore the benefits and offer advice on which pet to go for.
Pets can provide companionship for your child and form a bond that promotes emotional growth. Pets can offer a wonderful support system: they show unconditional love even if your child is distressed or angry. Through their interactions pets can also teach your child to behave gently, kindly and with empathy.
Research suggests that pets are an excellent way of reducing stress and anxiety. Interacting with animals is said to lower blood pressure and also lower chemicals in the brain that lead to stress. At the same time, being around your pet should ensure that your child loses a fear of animals.
Pets can help your child stay active too. By playing fetch, going for walks, or by just running around, pets can encourage your child to exercise. Usually, this will take place around nature too, providing an outlet for your child to relax and let off some steam.
Pets require gentle care and allowing your child to take part in this can help teach responsibility. If you create a structured schedule of feeding, walks, play and sleep your child will be able to help look after the pet and develop the skills to organise time appropriately.
Choosing the right pet
Selecting the right pet is important. Your choice might depend on what you’re looking for from a pet, with different animals offering a variety of benefits.
A dog can be an obvious choice, as they can form such a tight bond with your child. Just make sure you choose a breed that’s tolerant of children. A Labrador or Golden Retriever could be ideal. A dog would also be able to accompany your child on trips outside the house, riding in the wheelchair accessible car, walking next to the wheelchair (if needed) and providing support.
If you need something with lower maintenance a fish could be a good choice. They offer an exciting sensory experience for your child too.
Guinea pigs are similarly stress relieving. They’re cute, furry little creatures that communicate cheerfully with their companion. They require cleaning every day, but this can help form a routine for your child.
Pets can be wonderful companions for a child with disabilities. Just carefully examine your circumstances and pick the right animal to help your child develop.