Updated: Sep 16
Has your child been asking you for a pet? Kids love animals, and it is no surprise when they begin to ask for a pet of their own.
But how do you know if your child is old enough to have a pet? Responsible enough?
Do you need to make them earn it?
And, what kind of pet are you going to buy?
All these things are considerations when you are looking to buy your child's first pet.
Benefits of having pets
There are many benefits of having a pet. It has been shown that spending time with animals is good for your mental health.
According to Help Guide,
Pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. Caring for an animal can help children grow up more secure and active. Pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults. Perhaps most importantly, though, a pet can add real joy and unconditional love to your life.
When you get your child a pet, it is also a companion for them. This way, they have a fluffy friend to spend their time with. It helps them to feel like they are never alone.
Since my daughter isn't spending much time with other kids, we decided that it was time to get her a pet. We went and got her a baby kitten. Turns out, I needed a baby kitten too. We saw them and fell in love, so we ended up bringing home two baby kittens.
Responsibilities of pet care
In addition to the fun of having a pet, it is also a responsibility for a child. They are learning how to care for another living thing.
They will need to feed, water and clean up after the pet. They will also need to spend time with their pet, and make sure that they will get plenty of exercise.
Pet care can be a big responsibility for a young child to take on, and you will most likely need to help with the pet's care until the child is older.
However, caring for a pet can teach your child to be responsible as well. If your child learns that the pet has a feeding schedule, and needs to be walked, groomed or cleaned up after, this can teach them responsibility as well.
My teen daughter has several pets, and was responsible for their care for the most part, although she did ask for help with them at times, if she was going to be working a lot and out of the house.
What kind of pet should you get?
What kind of pet that you will want to get will depend on different factors like,
How much space do you have?
Do you have a yard?
Do you live somewhere with pet guidelines?
How much are you home?
How old is your child?
Once you consider these factors, you will be able to make an informed decision about what type of pet is best for you and your family.
If you live in a small apartment for example, it is probably not a good idea to get a large dog. Also, remember that dogs will need to be walked regularly, while cats are more self-sufficient.
However if you live somewhere that doesn't have a lot of room, you may also want to consider a smaller pet like a hamster or guinea pig, since they will not take up as much room.
If you consider getting a bird, remember that parrots can live for over 100 years, so this is a lifetime (and then some!) commitment to an animal's care. So before you adopt one, make sure that you are ready to be in it for the long haul.
Also, take into consideration what type of animal that your child has been asking for, and see if you are able to meet that request.
It is important to research each specific type of pet's needs, to be sure that you will be able to accommodate them with your lifestyle. Some pets need more care than others.
For example, my daughter has a chinchilla. They need their room to be set to a specific temperature, or they can die from too much heat or too much cold. Things like this are important to know beforehand.
Pets can provide a great deal of love and companionship for young children, and caring for a pet can also teach your child to be more responsible.
Think about the benefits of getting a pet, vs. the amount of responsibility that it will take to care for a pet when you are deciding if it is time to get your child's first pet. Also keep in mind that, no matter your child's age, you will likely end up doing a lot of the pet care yourself.
Make sure that you have enough time and space in your life for a pet before you get one, as it is a big responsibility to care for another living being.
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