Study of 1,000 children aged between nine and 10 years old by Mars Petcare reveals attachment between people and pets happens at early age.

A new study from Mars Petcare has revealed the attachment between people and pets happens at a much earlier age than originally thought.

Half of the children in the study – which looked at a range of pets – talked to their pets like they would their friends.In the study of 1,000 children aged between nine and 10 years old – carried out in conjunction with the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition and the University of Liverpool – it was found that 50% of children talked to their pets as they would to their friends, while more than one in three confided in their pets. It was also found that more than a third of children believe their pets understand how they feel.

The research, which looked at the ownership of a range of pets, including dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, horses and fish, also looked at the impact pets have on children who do not have siblings – showing a strong attachment between single children and their pets.  

Carri Westgarth from the University of Liverpool said: “In the absence of siblings, pets offer children the chance to care for, and nurture, others – a vital skill in a child’s learning and development. The youngest siblings in a family also had stronger attachment to their pets, which can be attributed to a lack of younger, more dependable siblings to care for.”

Sandra McCune from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition said: “Pets play a crucial role in the development of children, allowing them to socialise, care for, and nurture others.

“Children often yearn to own a pet and the developmental impact they have for kids is significant. Not only are they good in terms of exercise and responsibility, but also in helping children understand relationships. Playing, taking care of, and talking to animals can have a really positive impact on a child’s development.”

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