How to Choose a Pet for Your Child

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We all know that keeping a pet can have wonderful benefits for your children and your family, like teaching responsibility and a respect for living creatures, as well as just plain fun. However, it can be a daunting task to choose something that you and your family will love and cherish, but are also willing and able to deal with.

Size Does Matter.

First you need to ask yourself, what can we deal with size wise? Yes, your five year old boy asked for a puppy, but do you have room in your home for any size dog, large or small? If you have no yard, or green space near your home, a dog may not be for you. They need to have some space to run. If you are thinking cat, think about your furniture and the claws (same thing with a puppy) and do you have space for a litter box. If you are going smaller, maybe rodents, like a guinea pig, or a hamster, do you have room for the cage? Also, when thinking small, think about whether or not you have very small children. If your toddler can fit the baby turtle in his mouth, he will.

Time, Time.

How much time are you willing to invest in the care of your pet? Say you have a large yard, or lots of room for a cat in the house, but you are going to be gone for twelve hours every day, and the kids will be in daycare/school/after school programs. You don’t really want a dog, even if you really want a dog. You have no time to spend with it, so don’t do that to a living creature who will become depressed, anti-social, and won’t end up being a good pet anyway. Fish tanks can be wonderful learning environments with many fascinating creatures that your children can love and care for, name and watch-for five minutes out of the day.

Show Me the Money.

In general, the bigger the pet, the bigger the bills. It’s not just the food bills, which, take it from the owner of a mastiff, can really add up. It’s the vet bills. Yes, you might be able to get a horse and have a place to put it, say on grandma’s farm, and food is no problem. Then you get the $2000 vet bill for problems with the horses teeth, or hooves, or just the shots. Think about the other costs before you purchase your animal, and will you be able to get the care that this wonderful living creature deserves.


Okay, this title needs a little explanation, but you are still reading, so here goes. Don’t get a pet that is going to freak out a member of your immediate family, or someone who will be spending a great deal of time in the same environment. Don’t get a pet that is going to make someone ill. Don’t wig grandma out with the new pet snake. If you are going to get a tarantula, does someone have an aversion to spiders? Before you bring home that new long haired Persian kitty, do you know if your wife is allergic to cats? Is the parakeet singing constantly going to make your husband throw his computer at the cage? Will the drool from the bull dog all over everywhere actually touch off someone’s gag reflex? Every animal has there own little quirks and idiosyncrasies. Spend some time with the animal and do a little research on the breed, either on the computer, at the library or your helpful pet store, to make sure that this is the pet for you and your family.

Pets can add so much enjoyment to the lives of your family, but the decision needs to be an informed one. Take the time to look at all the pros and cons before you come to a screeching halt in front of that free kittens sign.


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