Has your little one been begging for a puppy or a kitten? Deciding when to get your child a pet can be tricky. There many things to consider before saying ‘yes’ to your child’s request. In this article, a local Fayetteville, NC vet offers some helpful tips on choosing your child’s first pet.
There isn’t any one age for children to get their first pet. That said, we really don’t recommend getting a pet for children younger than five, unless of course you plan to handle the pet’s care yourself. Ask your vet for specific advice.
Children all mature differently. While some kids understand at a very young age the importance of taking good care of our animal companions, this isn’t always the case. If your child shows empathy and responsibility, and does chores without needing to be reminded, he or she may be ready. If in doubt, wait another year or two.
Choose The Pet Carefully
Start with something small, like a goldfish or hamster. Guinea pigs and gerbils are also popular choices. Because these little guys are small, super cute, and easy to care for, they make great starter pets. We all know that puppies are adorable, but they are also a lot of care, and may not be the best choice for a child to handle on their own. And while cats aren’t necessarily hard to care for, they don’t always want to cuddle or play, and might not be the best choice for young children.
Have A Backup Plan
Unfortunately, it’s all too common for children to beg for a pet, and then lose interest in it. Make sure that you are ready, willing, and able to take over your furry friend’s care if this happens. While rehoming is a possibility, this is very hard on pets, as they quickly grow attached to their human friends, and can be traumatized by changes of ownership. Adopting a pet is a lifelong commitment!
Supervise your child carefully when they are feeding, petting, or playing with their new pal. We recommend having your child sit or kneel for pet playtime. It’s very easy for little kids to accidentally drop or hurt a little pet.
Please feel free to contact us, your local Fayetteville, NC animal clinic, for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs. We are here to help!