Choosing the Best Pet for Your Kids

Pet For Your Kids

Kids and pets go together like s’mores and camping but choosing the best fit can be stressful. Here are a few things to consider ahead of time that will make your choice easier:

  • Your child’s age, abilities, and daily schedule
  • Where you live, and
  • The type of pet you’re looking for: a dog or a cat?

The Kid

When thinking about a pet, consider the age, abilities and daily schedule of your child. The younger the kid, the less ability they may have to care for a dog or cat. Ditto for a child with a busy academic and after school schedule.

For an older child, say late elementary school to middle school age, the time for a puppy or kitten may be perfect. A great way to test and see if your kid is ready for the responsibility of being a pet parent is to foster.

Being a foster family is the perfect rehearsal for bringing a dog or cat into the family full time. Both dogs and cats need foster homes and you can even be breed specific if you’d like. There are many rescue agencies looking for willing foster homes.

Where Do You Live?

The best type of pet for your family also depends on where you live. Are you in an urban high-rise with kids at school and you’re out all day? A puppy may not fit as well as a kitten due to a dog’s need to be walked. Puppies being house trained should go out every two hours until they are about three months old. After that, they can hold it for an extra hour per month of life.

If you are in the country with space for an outside kennel, a puppy would be a great choice even with a busy family because that kennel gives it the ability to be outside at will.

If you live in the city, a kitten or cat would be perfect. Cats are more self-sufficient than dogs and fit a busy family schedule with ease. Food and water, litter box, a way for the cat to see what’s going on outside and you’re set.

The Perfect Pet

There really isn’t a universally perfect pet and their needs must fit into the family like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. If you’re considering a specific breed, think about …

  • How large or small the animal will be when fully grown
  • Its need for activity, and
  • What you can afford to spend on food and medical care

Breed traits should also play into your decision as well. For example, long hair will need more grooming from your child than one with short hair. And look into the kinds of medical issues a specific breed may have. Long haired cats can tend to have more hairball issues than short haired breeds.

Choosing a pet for your child can be stress-free if you do some pre-planning. Consider your child’s age, abilities and schedule, where you live, the type of pet you’d like and you’ll be all set.

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Mom, Can I Have a Dog?

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For the busy family with children, choosing a pet is a huge commitment. A pet is not just a toy or playmate, but actually a living, breathing member of the family that requires responsible love and care in order to survive. A pet can be a gentle, lovable and loyal addition to your family. A lot of thought should go into adopting a pet when you have a child.

In choosing the perfect pet to adopt for your kids, you have to first consider their age and maturity. The last thing you want to do is bring a young or tiny animal into your home and subject it to possible abuse because the kids do not fully understand the responsibility, needs and frailty of that new family member. Children beyond age six are usually a little more mature and capable of understanding how to handle a new kitten or puppy. It depends on the child. If you know your child will respond appropriately when told not to pick up the tiny animal for fear of dropping it, you may be ready to adopt a small and/or very young animal. If not, a larger, older pet may be more appropriate. That’s not to say that you should decide on a dangerously large pet. This is where research comes in to find the right animal that is very kid-friendly.

Some children just don’t have it in them to be devoted to the time and attention it takes in caring for a high-maintenance animal such a dog. A cat may be a better choice because of its independent nature. They don’t require as much human interaction and can be left alone, happily, for hours and more. They also don’t need to be walked and exercised regularly, which are among the needs of a dog.

There are pros and cons to having pets in the home. They do fill a void because it is nearly impossible not to smile with the presence of a cuddle or snuggle and wag of a friendly tail. However, pets are also a big responsibility both physically and financially. They require food, a cozy place to sleep, toys to play with and regular exercise and visits to the vet for good health.

Sometimes it is best to consider a small pet for the kids until they can prove they can take on the care and responsibility of another living creature. Such pets may include fish, a turtle, guinea pig, hamsters or gerbils. They take up relatively little space and are less costly to care for while teaching your little ones that these living beings do indeed require love and care. Once they have proven to be a responsible pet owner, then you may move on to choosing your favorite breed of dog.