It seems all children reach an age at which they want a pet. While the right pet can be a loving and loved addition to any family, it is quite a commitment, one that introduces a lot of responsibility too. From feeding and caring for the pet to vet visits and unexpected emergencies, there is a lot to think through before buying your kids a pet.
Consider these tips before heading to the pet store or adoption center.
Animals to Consider
Puppies and kittens might be the first pets that come to mind for children, but contemplate rescuing an older dog or cat. With a little searching, you can find lovely dogs and cats that are well-trained and need rescuing due to aging owners who can no longer care for them. The advantage of an older animal is that they are likely well-behaved and will not chew up your household as they teethe. However, remember that small dogs and cats are more fragile too and are usually not best for young children.
Many shelters and rescue societies have specific breeds you might be looking for too. So, do not go directly to a breeder if you can adopt the kind of pet you want. Check groups online as well as locally to find out what animals are available in your area.
Hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and chinchillas also make wonderful pets for kids. They are small and quiet, so these pets are likely better for shy or quiet children ready to learn some responsibility. Pets such as these often reduce stress due to their subtle nature, so older children or less chaotic homes are best.
Preparing Your Child for a Pet
Pets require care, though some more than others. Preparing your child for a pet takes some planning and care to ensure both your child and soon-to-be new pet are well taken care of. Begin by introducing your child to animals in safe settings. Teach them to safely approach and let the animals smell them first. Good pets to practice with may belong to friends and family or at a pet store or shelter. If children are taught to respect animals, the kids are less likely to get scratched or bitten. If a pet is eating or sleeping, do not disturb or interrupt them. It's also a good idea to avoid using toys or giving treats during early encounters with animals. Remember to never leave a child — especially young ones, unattended with pets too. The goal is to build respect and trust so that the children and pets feel comfortable with one another.
Necessary Pet Accessories
All pets need basic accessories such as food and water bowls and perhaps a cage or crate. To prevent dehydration in your cat, you may want to pick up a cat water fountain. Cats can be put off by stale water, and this device can keep it fresh and clean. More so than other pets, dogs and cats often need additional pet accessories such as a collar and leash as well as flea and tick medicine to prevent illnesses. One easy way to ensure pets receive the preventative medicine against these biting pests is to fasten a flea and tick collar around their necks. According to the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, the effectiveness of such collars against tick- and flea-borne diseases is 91.6 percent. This is also why so many vets recommend these devices for both cats and dogs too. The collar gives off a gas that repels the insects, but it also releases medication into your pet's outer fat layer to treat any bites the animal may have received. Some even have an active ingredient that kills the bugs before they bite.
Before deciding which pet to get, it’s important to sit down and discuss the matter with your children. Listen to their wishes, and take everything into consideration. Together, you can find an animal that’s a good fit for your kids — and your children will be a good fit for your pet.