For parents who have children—and no, we're not talking about your furry companions!—owning a pet can be an incredibly fulfilling experience that enhances your quality of life. The bond between pets and humans can bring immeasurable joy and happiness to your household, and the anticipation and eagerness that comes along with adding a new furry member to your family is an amazing feeling. The experience is particularly exciting for those embarking on their first pet-owning journey—it brings about an exhilarating experience and an even memorable one if you have kids!
By nature, children are curious, and owning a pet can provide valuable opportunities for personal growth and development. For one, it's an exceptional way to teach and instill in them qualities and lessons in empathy, kindness, responsibility, compassion, accountability, and attentiveness. Moreover, it is an enriching experience that can provide them comfort and assist in fostering a positive, loving, and respectful relationship with animals in general, making children feel more at ease in their presence.
Before selecting a pet that is the perfect match for your family, there are a few important factors you need to consider. Let's dive into them below!
Things to consider when choosing a pet for kids
Pet Age and Temperament
The age of a pet is significant when considering purchasing or adopting. Younger pets, like puppies or kittens, tend to be more energetic, curious, and love to play! However, this can sometimes lead to accidental biting or scratching due to their mischievous nature. On the other hand, older pets tend to have a gentle demeanor and temperament. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if opting for an older pet, it is best to select one that was raised in a household with children rather than one that wasn't. With them being more accustomed to having younger humans around them, it can make for a smooth and safe integration of the pet into your family, reducing any likelihood of issues relating to interactions with children.
It's noteworthy to mention that kids can form emotional attachments and develop strong bonds with pets quite easily. Therefore, selecting an older pet may not be the most sensible decision since their lifespan could be limited, leading to potential heartbreak or disappointment in the future. That being said, it is always important to consider your child's emotional attachment before adopting or purchasing a pet. This will help to ensure a positive and lasting experience for your entire family, especially the kids—as they grow up alongside their friendly companion.
Though illness is often unpredictable, you still want to make sure that your potential pet is relatively healthy! Conduct thorough research about the specific breed or species of pet that has piqued your interest. Visit reputable shelters and consult with trusted veterinarians before making any finalizations. Not only can this help you to make a well-informed decision, but it can help to mitigate any potential health risks and provide you with reassurance about the condition of your chosen pet!
Size of the Pet
Every pet is unique and comes in all shapes and sizes. As a result, this can have an impact on their living arrangements and the amount of space required for them to thrive and feel at ease. For instance, larger animals may need more space to roam and play around, while smaller pets may not need as much.
Assess whether you have adequate living and outdoor space to accommodate the needs of the pet you are considering. Providing them with an appropriate environment that allows for them to grow and be content is essential for their well-being and happiness.
Level of Care Requirements
Different pets require varying levels of care, with some being more high-maintenance than others. For instance, certain pets demand daily attention for activities like going for walks, feeding, exercising, grooming, maintaining a healthy diet and proper nutrition, behavioral training, and regularly keeping their living area clean and tidy. Dogs, and occasionally cats, are prime examples of high-maintenance companions. In contrast, animals such as fish or guinea pigs are comparatively low-maintenance and demand minimal care.
Consider a practical approach to dividing pet care tasks among family members. Take the time to have an open conversation with your family and establish clear expectations regarding the responsibilities involved in caring for your new family addition. Work together to determine how each person can contribute to looking after your new beloved pet.
Prior to assigning any tasks to your child, ensure they are capable of handling them. Choose tasks they can do without difficulty and without causing harm to themselves or the pet—given their age. Teach them how to carefully complete the tasks, demonstrating the correct steps, the reasonings behind each action, and highlighting what should not be done in the process. Contemplate watching entertaining and educational content on Youtube together. This can provide them with a fun way to learn the basics of pet care!
Considering the time, effort, and resources your family can dedicate is crucial to ensure your pet’s well-being. Take into account factors such as the amount of time you have available to devote to your pet's care, the effort required to keep them healthy and happy, and the resources you can allocate toward their needs—at all times.
At the end of the day, we all want our pets to be living their life to the fullest!
Your child's age and personality
When choosing a pet for your child, it is important to consider their age as it is a factor that can significantly influence the decision-making process. Why? Well because it plays a pivotal role in determining the type of pet that would be the most suitable companion for them!
Ensure that your child is at an appropriate age where they can comprehend the responsibilities of having a pet and are capable of treating the pet with care and respect. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends parents wait until their child reaches around the age of 5 or 6 before getting a pet as they are likely to be more emotionally and cognitively developed. Sometimes children—especially the younger ones—can be a little rough when playing and might not grasp the consequences of their actions which may lead to unintentional stress or harm to your new pet. Therefore, to avoid the risk of accidental injury to your child (like a bite or scratch) or the pet, it is best to wait until they are sufficiently mature.
Have you ever seen a toddler grab a fist full of a dog or cat’s fur? Ouch!
This leads to the next point: choose a pet that best matches your child’s personality! For younger children, you want to choose a pet that can handle their boisterous and unpredictable nature. In this case, you want an animal that is not only patient and playful but gentle enough to handle the lively behavior that comes with having little ones around. Larger pets with a friendly temperament might be better equipped to handle the energetic nature of kids, while smaller and delicate pets may not be a great match. Always supervise their interactions and offer guidance when needed.
In contrast, older children tend to possess a higher level of maturity and understanding, making them more adept at managing pet-related chores and responsibilities. They can actively take on tasks including feeding, walking, training, playing with the pet, and more. This level of involvement can not only deepen their bond with their pet but teach them responsibility, companionship, empathy, and other valuable skills.
Having a furry friend can be incredibly rewarding! But what fun would it be if your child or any other family member is allergic to them? According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, a good portion of the world’s population, approximately 10 to 20%, is affected by allergies triggered by cats and dogs. This may cause concern among potential pet parents who wish to bring a beloved furry companion into their household. Therefore, understanding the prevalence of pet-related allergies is significant to making informed decisions about welcoming a new pet to your home.
Pet allergies occur when your child’s immune system reacts to the proteins found in an animal's dander—flecks of dead skin cells shed by pets with fur, hair, or feathers. Due to its microscopic size, it can more easily spread and adhere to surfaces like carpets, furniture, bedding, and other fabrics. This makes it highly transferable between indoor and outdoor environments, hitchhiking on your clothes, the seats you sit on, and virtually any public setting. Not to mention, pet dander can also circulate and linger in the air for long durations. Even when there are no pets around, allergens may still be present.
As a result, this can trigger allergic reactions in children manifesting as sneezing, a runny nose, watery or red/itchy eyes, and skin rashes. In some cases, it can even result in wheezing, asthma, or difficulty breathing. Are you unsure if your child has an allergy or worried it might be a concern? Check with their pediatrician or an allergy specialist before committing to getting a pet. You could also seek guidance from a reputable veterinarian who can provide you with professional advice and recommendations.
If your child has allergies, but you would still like to get them a pet, don't fret— there are other options available! For instance, you can explore the option of hypoallergenic pets. Reptiles, amphibians, and fish are great options for pets as they do not have fur. Nor do they shed dander, making them less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. However, if you prefer popular pets like cats, dogs, or hamsters, be aware that they tend to shed dander, which may cause allergies.
To effectively combat and manage pet allergies, take proactive measures. This may involve washing your hands frequently, regularly cleaning and vacuuming your home, keeping pets out of certain rooms (such as your bedroom), grooming and bathing them often, and other steps that can help minimize allergens!
Costs & Family Budget
When contemplating the addition of a furry friend to your household, it is imperative to take into account that certain pets can be relatively expensive and come with higher costs for their maintenance. Some may even demand specialized care and attention. These expenditures typically include medical and healthcare expenses, grooming fees, food, treats, toys, and other outlays— which can accumulate rapidly. Veterinary care, in particular, is often the most costliest aspect of pet care and one of the most significant expenses that pet owners face—especially when it comes to unexpected vet visits. According to a Forbes survey, veterinary care and medicine accounted for 33% of the overall expenditure on household pets in 2020. With each passing year, these pet care costs continue to increase.
Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that you are financially prepared to handle the responsibilities that come with pet ownership! Do your due diligence and thoroughly research and understand the expenses accompanied with owning a pet, including both the initial cost and the ongoing care expenses. Consider your family’s finances, and if necessary, explore more budget-friendly pet options or opt for adoption! Adoption is a lovely choice and can be a more affordable option. Not to mention, it also helps to provide a loving home for animals that are in need!
Although you can’t put a price on the love of a pet, the expenses that come along with owning one can certainly put a dent in our wallets!