Choosing the Best Pets For Children

Featured image of girl holding cute puppy outdoors

As children grow older, it’s common for them to develop a desire for an animal companion and ask their parents for permission to get a pet. Now, in these cases, it’s important to distinguish whether it is a genuine desire or just an emotional outburst and a phase that will pass soon. In case you rush your decision, you might end up caring for an animal you have not wanted in the first place. 

This is crucial because it’s an opportunity to teach your kids about what it means to have responsibilities and take care of a living and breathing creature. Situations like these shouldn’t be taken lightly because, at the end of the day, it’s you, the parent, that will be making the biggest commitment and will be directly responsible for the quality of life of your new pet animal.

With that out of the way, owning a pet can be a positive life-changing experience, and as long as you and your child are ready to commit a small portion of your time, you’ll be rewarded more than you can imagine. One thing to keep in mind when contemplating on picking a pet for your child and your family is what kind of animal matches the environment you live in and the personality of your child.

Things to Consider Before Bringing Home a Furry Friend

Does the Potential Pet Match the Lifestyle of Your Family?

This is a big one. Choosing a pet that doesn’t match the lifestyle of your family will be a mutually unpleasant experience. For instance, getting a large dog breed while living in a studio might not be the ideal solution. Not to say it’s not doable, but a cat or a fish would be a much better fit. Remember, even if your child is begging you to get a German shepherd, it probably best to opt for a smaller pet. 

Do You Have the Time for a Pet?

Another thing you should consider is your schedule. Some pets have time-consuming needs, such as dogs who require long walks at least twice a day or more exotic pets that require a lot of socialization, as opposed pets like Guinea Pigs who are happy as long as they have their habitat, clean water, and some food. If you have a busy schedule, opt for pets that are extremely simple to care for.

What’s Your Budget?

Pets cost money so before you get one, think about your budget and is there enough leeway to squeeze in another furry family member. Aside from regular expenses like food, equipment, and other miscellaneous, there are also veterinarian bills to consider, and these can add up quickly, especially with larger animals. If there’s enough disposable income to go around, by all means, get some of the more expensive pets for kids. On the other hand, if you’re barely making ends meet, consider some of the more cost-effective pets like small birds, fish or rodents.

Consider the Lifespan of Your Potential Pet

Pets like dogs and cats can live significantly longer than fish and rodents. Turtles can have a life expectancy of up to 3-4 decades. The lifespan of your future pet is something you should definitely consider before making the commitment. If you’re planning to move cross-country in the next few years, think about whether a larger pet with a longer lifespan will enjoy your new environment and have the same living conditions as he would have in your current situation.
So now that we covered some of the things you should think about before picking a pet for your child and your family, let’s talk about some of the most popular choices and their characteristics.

Choosing the Best Pets For Children

Dogs

Man’s best friend and one of the most popular choices among pets for kids, dogs are loving and caring animals that transform a gloomy Monday morning into a day to look forward to. There is no other pet that can offer more in the ‘affectionate department,’ but dogs are also a lot of work. Some breeds are not even suitable for children, so bear that in mind when picking a pet

Dogs are also not as budget-friendly as some other, smaller animals, and they require regular walks, obedience training, and housebreaking. 

That being said, having a dog is a remarkable experience, and something your kids will cherish for the rest of their life. They are a welcome addition to any family that has the time and resources available. Dogs are the quintessential pet, without a doubt, but you should always consider matching the personality of a dog breed with the character of your child and the lifestyle of your family. Active breeds can be a heap of fun but are not suited for families that are more laid back and less outdoorsy.

Breeds that are generally considered great pets for kids are Labradors, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Beagles, but mixed breeds are also a great choice. Always consider adopting a dog from a shelter before buying.

Cats

Dog enthusiasts will often describe cats as cold and notoriously independent but don’t be swayed so easily, cats can be just as loving as their canine counterparts. 

Avid cat lovers will tell you that their fluffy felines are the best of both worlds. Independent enough to require less care and attention than other pets, but ready to jump in your lap for a quick cuddle when you are in dire need of some good company and affection.

However, cats are still a serious commitment and need to be fed several meals a day consisting of dry or canned food. You’ll also want to clean their litterbox regularly as cats are pretty neat and tidy animals in general. Regular veterinary checkups are also something you should keep in mind as an additional cost of owning a cat.

Cats require less space than dogs, but also more people are allergic to cats, so make sure to get tested before acquiring a new feline pet. If you’re set on getting a furry kitten as a pet for your kid, we highly suggest you adopt one at your local animal shelter, as opposed to buying it from a breeder.

Rodents

Pets like hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and even rats are middle of the pack when it comes to the level of commitment required to keep them happy. They require more involvement than fish in the sense that they are more of a hands-on pet, but they also offer a more profound connection as you can actually play with them.

Rodents also have a shorter lifespan than dogs and cats, making them a great choice if you’re not able to commit long-term. As we mentioned, larger pets can cost a lot of money because of the amount of food they eat and the regular veterinary checkups, so if you’re on a tighter budget, getting something like a gerbil won’t put a dent in your wallet. 

If you’re looking to get a single pet rodent, we recommend opting for a hamster as they prefer to live in solitary. Otherwise, most of these smaller mammals should go in pairs. 

Image of boy laying on grass with rabbit

Reptiles and Amphibians

While they might be cold-blooded, these stunning green creatures will win your little one’s heart with their quirky looks and unique character. Reptiles and Amphibians are a great choice if you’re picking a pet that’s more on the exotic side. Reptiles can especially be a great choice if your children suffer from allergies as they are non-allergenic.

As long as they have their habitat and you feed them regularly, these pets will require minimum care. It’s also worth mentioning that, unlike birds, reptiles are mostly docile animals so you’ll still get to enjoy your peace if you choose to pick them as your family pet.

Some reptiles like turtles can live for several decades, so they are a long-term pet. There have been cases of reptiles transmitting salmonella, so that’s something to keep in mind when considering them as a pet for your kids.

Fish

If you’re looking to ease your way into having a pet but also fulfill your child’s wishes and get him an animal companion, we suggest you start by acquiring a convenient fishbowl and putting a pair of lovely little goldfish in it. If you’re more into solitary pets, a Siamese fighting fish is the least amount of maintenance and boasts some great looks.

Sure the cost of owning fish as pets can go up if you’re investing into a large aquarium with aerators, heaters, and fancy LED lights, but you can keep it simple and stick with a regular fishbowl. Just remember to feed your new pets, and change the water regularly to keep it fresh.

Birds

Birds can bring joy to just about any home and children love them in general, but they are more work than previously mentioned fish, reptiles, and rodents. These highly intelligent animals require daily attention and socialization. 

If you’re new to the concept of owning a bird as a pet, we suggest starting with something like a Parakeet and then gradually progress towards more demanding species like Cockatiels.

While the cheerful sounds of birds, excitingly chirping and singing can be sweet, sometimes it can interfere with your peace and quiet, usually when you need it the most. Other than that, birds really make great pets and children adore them.

That concludes our list of best pets for kids. While there are a lot of other options out there and various exotic pets to consider, we suggest sticking to these six groups, especially if your children are really young and you yourself are an inexperienced pet owner. Let us know which pet your kids bonded the most with and share your experience in the comments below.

Author: Jonathan M. Ward
Author: Jonathan M. Ward

Himself a father of two, John is obsessed with getting the most out of every children’s product on the market, finding value wherever it can be found. His years of study in developmental psychology coupled with his passion for parenting make him an invaluable asset to our team.

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