Ian Somerhalder is keen to raise his daughter around pets, because they will "shape her life".

Ian Somerhalder

Ian Somerhalder

The 39-year-old actor and his wife Nikki Reed welcomed their daughter Bodhi into the world 13 months ago, and the star has now said that raising the tot in an environment with a total of nine pets - including dogs, cats and horses - is important to him, as the "compassion" she will learn from them will "inform" who she "becomes as a person".

He said: "I was just sitting with her on the floor having a cup of coffee and watching the interaction between the cats and her. Our little young kitty is just in love with my daughter, and my daughter is the same - just so in love with her kitties.

"Three of the biggest things in the world that can heal so much are things you can't teach, but things you can show, which are reverence, gratitude and compassion. When you expose young children, or adults for that matter, to animals, you are shown through your interaction compassion, gratitude and reverence.

"It informs who you will become as a person. So, I love watching my daughter grow up with all these incredible animals that we have. They will shape her life and inform who she becomes. I can't wait to see it all."

The 'Vampire Diaries' actor grew up around animals himself in Louisiana, and would even crawl inside his pet pooch Lady's dog house to cuddle up with her and her puppies.

Ian added: "I remember how warm and amazing it was. I was a tiny baby - I'm talking like two years old. I would crawl in there and have eight or 10 puppies to curl up with and [Lady] used to lick me and comb me like I was one of them. It was that immersion.

"My grandparents also had a farm with dogs, cats, chickens, goats, pigs, horses and cows, so I was just surrounded with them, always. So much so, that I wanted to become a veterinarian very badly when I was young."

Ian and Nikki - who married in 2015 - have always connected over their love of animals and even travel with them when they have to jet off across the world for work.

The former 'Lost' star told Access Hollywood: "Our lives are enriched as a result of the animals we have, particularly our kitties and dogs, because they actually travel with me everywhere. It's a little harder to bring the horses around! But we are a traveling circus."