Is it the right time to let your child have a pet?

For a lot of families, a pet completes their unit. And having a pet can be good for children in many ways. While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea of owning a pet (for both adults and children), they are a long-term commitment and it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly.

 

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Having a pet offers many benefits for children and families as a whole. Here are some reasons why introducing a pet can be a great idea.

 

Teaching responsibility

Including children in the care, feeding and general looking after of a pet is a good way to impart the lesson of responsibility. Children of all ages will learn the importance of their duties.

 

Respect and empathy

All animals have feelings and physical and emotional needs. When children learn to approach pets with kindness, love and compassion, it easily translates into treating other humans in the same way.

 

Exercise

Depending on the kind of pet you have, your children will benefit from time outdoors while walking or caring for their animal.

 

So, what pet would be best for your child? This really depends on your individual situation, as different species come with different levels of needs.

 

Small animals

Small animals, like hamsters or guinea pigs, can make a good a first pet as they are easy to handle, take care of and aren’t threatening to a child. Depending on breed and species, small animals usually live between 2-5 years, which allows lots of time to for a child bond with the pet and enjoy lots of fun, but is not a longer-term commitment for your family, though they may have to learn to deal with the loss of a beloved pet sooner than with a longer-lived animal. Rabbits can be very sweet, but must be homed in pairs, and have lifespans of 8-10 years, which is an incredibly long time for a child, and you may find yourself shouldering the responsibility as their interests change with age.

 

Fish

Fish can also be a good choice as they are interesting to watch and learn about. It can be a lot of fun for children to choose how they decorate the tank, with different ornaments and plants. However, maintaining a tank takes a lot of work that you’ll need to do yourself.

 

Cats

Cats make wonderful pets and are very independent animals. They require very little training, but litter boxes will need to be cleaned at least once a day. And, as they are roaming animals, cats can be prone to injury from other animals and cars. However, they are very loving if handled and cared for correctly and often love to snuggle up on someone’s lap, which can be very rewarding for children.

 

Dogs

If you’re looking for a family pet to involve in all your activities, dogs make fabulous companions for children of all ages. They do require a great deal of care and training, though, so this should be really thought about before you bring a dog into your home.

 

It’s important to remember that any pet will need care if you go away, so you need to bear this in mind when you take on the responsibility of any animal.