What are the best pets for children?
Every child should have a pet, in my opinion anyway. Owning and taking care of the right pet – whether it’s a dog, cat, bird, or snake – is one of the most memorable parts of being a kid. Plus, it teaches children responsibility, and the right pet can even foster a child’s imagination and creativity.
So when your little boy or girl begs you, “Mom, pul-lease, can I have a dog? I promise to walk him every day and feed him and love him. Please, please, please!” Don’t immediately say no, think about whether a pet is the right choice for your family.
Not all children should have pets, and pets aren’t always the right fit for your family. They take a lot of time and commitment. And when your child gets bored of his pet, it’s up to you, the parent, to care for that animal for the rest of its natural life. So don’t make this choice hastily. Think about it.
Pets are wonderful, and they love you no matter what. My fur-babies include a dog and a cat. Here are my picks for the Best Pets for Children.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance pet, you can’t go wrong with a goldfish. Your child will love feeding their goldfish and watching it swim around. Goldfish are often considered a “starter pet” for kids, since they can live for a few years in cold water and with good care.
Just keep in mind that feeding the goldfish too often can send him to a premature death. Mom will probably be changing the water bowl out every week or so.
Elementary school children typically love having pet insects. Ant farms are always fascinating, and boys between 5 and 8 years old have a special fondness of their ants. Ant farms are low-maintance, and the only risk of the ants escaping is if the feeding portal is left open. But in study farms, even if it’s dropped, the plastic remains intact (most of the time, not always).
For most kids, the family dog is indeed their best friend. Dogs are loyal companions who offer children unconditional love, while also teaching them responsibility, trust, and friendship. Your family pooch will also keep your child busy when you can’t. Your dog can run and romp around the house (or preferably, out in the yard) with your kids.
All dog breeds are best for kids, if they are socialized properly. However, there are certain dog breeds that are considered more “kid friendly.” These often include the highly trainable breeds, such as golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers. Experts usually recommend that you get larger dogs for young children, because they are more tolerant. For example, if your child pulls on the ear or steps on the foot of a larger dog, they won’t be as injured. A smaller dog may accidentally bite or nip when injured.
Keep in mind that dogs require the most care and attention, compared to other animals.
There is nothing more enjoyable than cozying up to a warm, fluffy cat that is purring. Cats are typically more popular with girls, but they can be enjoyed by both boys and girls. Cats aren’t high maintenance either. They play with you when they feel like it, but most of the time, they’re aloof and they spend a lot of time sleeping.
Some cats are more affectionate than others. For example, there are certain breeds that are more “dog-like” in that they’re needy and require their human’s attention. These include the Siamese, Persian, and Abyssinian.
An interesting fact to know – if you bring your newborn baby home and you already own a cat, your child is at lower risk of allergies. But if you end up getting a cat once your child is older, he or she might be allergic. Cats can also scratch and nip during play, so younger children probably shouldn’t play with them. Or you could get cat nail caps, which are soft vinyl claps that glue to your cats’ claws and protect against scratches. They are available at almost all major pet stores.
Hamsters are perfect for children who want a pet, but owning a cat or dog is out of the question due to time, space, or commitment. Hamsters are small, furry, and clever. They don’t need a lot of space, but they do require some care (like cleaning the cage bedding), but an older child can manage this easily. What makes hamsters a great pet for children is that they’re nocturnal and sleep when you’re away during the day.
With regular handling and interaction with children, hamsters can become quite tame. Hamsters also don’t live too long, only 2 or 3 years for the smaller types, so they are a great first-time pet experience for children.
If your child is a true explorer, he or she will love having a bird as a pet. They don’t require much, except for cage cleaning and daily water and food. Depending on the bird species you get, birds can be quite colorful active, and even social. They aren’t right for all children, since it takes time and patience to train them, but they are still a lovely addition to any family.
You should choose a bird species on its temperament, not just its color. Personality truly varies on the species. Birds live a very long time, so be on the lookout for a long term commitment. Finches, canaries, parakeets, and cockatiels are a few bird species that are wonderful with children. (And they are beautiful to look at.)
I grew up with yellow finches and two parakeets (which my sister and I named “Rosie” and “Austin.” They pair lived for 15 years.)
If you can handle the creep factor, you might allow your children to raise earthworms. They are a very low maintenance pet, and they multiply like crazy. (They’re also great for the garden, once your child is bored with them.)
All you need is a quart-sized jar, filled with the worms and about two-thirds with dirt. Place a layer of leaves over the dirt, and place the jar in a cool spot and wrap it with black construction paper. Allow your children to remove the construction paper when they want to see the worms. Every couple of waters, lightly water the soil. Fed the earthworms with vegetable scraps. Pretty simple, and it’s a great educational experience for pre-school and elementary school kids.
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