Research finds having a pet may help your kids read better, and could provide other cognitive benefits as well. In 2010, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine conducted a study in which kids who practiced reading aloud to a canine buddy showed improved reading fluency. (Kids participating in the study said they felt more relaxed reading to a dog rather than to a parent, teacher or peer.) The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says pets can also help kids develop non-verbal communication skills. And some experts say those who grow up with pets have higher IQs and emotional intelligence, though research in those areas is limited.