Most kids hope to become pet owners, but it can be a challenge to find the right pet and instruct kids on how to be responsible for them. Fortunately, you can take steps to help prepare your children to be conscientious pet owners—plus picking the right animal to bring home. Making the right match can be overwhelming, so we sorted out a few especially good choices and what to consider.
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Plan for Healthy Animal Environments
Different animals require specific environments for optimal health. For example, dogs need frequent walks (for more than just potty breaks) and mental stimulation. Pet rodents benefit from daily socialization, and all critters need a clean and safe place to sleep.
Small pets need safe, species-appropriate cages, and all animals need healthy diets to support their health. Knowing what your pet needs to remain happy and healthy goes a long way toward preparing your home—and your children—for pet ownership. There is a lot involved, and the costs can really add up, so take these aspects into account as you make your choice.
Take Steps Toward Proper Pet Protection
No matter what pet you choose for your family, considering their health is crucial. For example, owning a dog requires frequent vet visits for vaccinations, microchipping, and other checkups. You should also spay or neuter your pet to prevent overpopulation and health issues. Some pet owners opt for pet insurance so they have peace of mind for any issues that might pop up. Look for a plan that covers an assortment of treatments along with routine vet visits.
Similarly, older pets, like older people, sometimes need a bit of consideration for their joints. This might involve purchasing taller bowls, supportive beds, and joint support for staying comfortable. Many people shy away from older pets, but they can make wise, wonderful companions for youngsters.
With smaller pets, however, such as rats and other rodents, respiratory issues can be common, The Spruce Pets says. This means you’ll need to research safe bedding and other products for these types of animals before bringing them home. Learn the ins and outs about whatever pet you’re considering before you make the commitment.
Learn About Safe Pet Handling and Care
No matter what type of pet you decide to adopt, teaching your children how to handle them safely and gently is crucial. Learning to approach dogs cautiously and with an open palm, for example, can promote everyone’s safety and bonding. Also, learning to scoop rather than grab small pets helps preserve both kids’ and pets’ safety and wellbeing.
Why Dogs Make Great Pets
Apart from research showing that owning a dog helps grow healthier humans, having a pet dog is also beneficial for kids because of the bond they can develop. Dogs provide benefits like emotional support, increased self-esteem, and a sense of responsibility for kids. Plus, a dog’s long lifespan—anywhere from seven to 16 years, says Canine Journal—means your child won’t have to learn difficult lessons about death early on.
Keep in mind that dogs need plenty of supplies to ensure their health and happiness. In addition to basic essentials like a pet brush, a crate, a water bowl, and their own comfy bed, one item that's oft-overlooked but just as beneficial to your dog is a hair dryer. When your canine gets wet, this handy tool will keep your dog warm and relieve you of that not-so-pleasant wet dog smell!
Pet Rats for Children
Rats, despite their poor reputations, also make excellent pets for children. Pet rats are smart, emotionally intelligent, clean, and don’t take up much space, making them ideal for even younger children. Rats do have a shorter lifespan than other pets, and they are susceptible to many diseases that decrease their life expectancy. However, pet rats are relatively easy to care for and are very social creatures—ideal for children to bond with and train.
Guinea Pigs as Kids’ First Pets
Guinea pigs are another great first pet choice for kids. These rodents are large enough to cuddle but small enough that they can live in an indoor cage. Guinea pigs enjoy socializing and sampling fresh vegetable snacks. They are also fun to watch. Plus, guinea pigs don’t require climate control, since they thrive in similar conditions as humans do. They also can’t climb, meaning they’ll stay put even in cages without lids.
Helping kids to prepare for a new pet—plus choosing said pet—can prove challenging. But by doing adequate research beforehand and getting the right products and equipment, you can work toward teaching children how to care for their furry new friends.
Written by Cindy Aldridge
Photo via Pixabay