“Can I have a pet please?”
So your little one is asking for a pet, perhaps you already have one and are considering a move from a small animal to a bigger responsibility. It may sound like a handful, but with proper love and care, pets can be amazing for children. Here are our thoughts on why they’re a great idea and a selection of our favourite types of pets to choose for your child.
A Special Companion
When children bond with their pets, they become their best friend. A special bond is formed and they often become inseparable. Research and personal experience have taught us that the presence of pets at home helps encourage children’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. So happy kids and happy pets is a win-win situation. Pets provide a great source of comfort, if your child is upset, animals help restore a sense of calm. Have you ever heard of petting dogs at university for stressed students? (Yes, this is a thing!) The stroking motion of when a child strokes a furry friend offers calm and comfort in an upsetting situation. It’s also really beneficial for children to have a little playmate if they don’t have any siblings. Especially on rainy days!
Which kind of pet?
Cats, dogs, rodents, goldfish or perhaps avian friends… It’s a great idea to discuss with your child which animals they like and why. Perhaps visit the pet centre or a little mini petting zoo and let them get a good feel for different types of animals. The list is endless, so have a think about what’s right for your level of commitment, time and living environment. If you don’t have the space for a cat or dog, perhaps it would be best to start off with a little rodent or one you can keep in a small cage or tank. Here’s our top five…
Hamsters are an excellent starter choice for your children. They have the cutest little faces and grooming movements, they sleep all day and are very low maintenance. They’re great petting animals for children because they’re naturally docile little animals and very rarely bite, only if startled or frightened. With proper care, hamsters can live up to two years, therefore they don’t have too long a commitment. A decent space in the cage for running around, sawdust, fresh water and a wheel for exercise is the basic needs and cotton wool for bedding. Hamsters are inexpensive and a bag of seeds and nuts go a long way. You’ll need to clean the cage once a week to keep it fresh, but other than that hamsters make a great low maintenance pet which is an ideal introduction to living with animals.
A goldfish is a fantastic starter pet. They’re bright and shiny and fun to watch, they don’t take up much space, you can keep them in a modest goldfish bowl or tank. As long as they have ample room to swim and you change the water and feed them regularly, you don’t have to do much more than observe and enjoy them! Goldfish are a calming pet to keep, children are often mesmerised by just watching them swimming around and it can be particularly soothing if your child is upset to sit and look at the fish. Have you ever seen a goldfish tank in a doctor or dentist’s surgery? Now you know why! Something worth noting, goldfish grow to the size of their surroundings though so if you buy a big tank, you’ll end up with a big fish. They can also live up to 25 years old!
Kittens are a family favourite. Children love kittens. The feline furries are medium level maintenance, as long as you have a big enough space to keep a litter tray, they should easily grow into an independent cat. Cats are good pets because they’re very self-sufficient. If you’re choosing a cat from an animal shelter than a kitten from scratch, no pun intended, check with the carers to ensure your new cat will be suitable to live with children. Outdoor cats are even less maintenance, as they come home to sleep and eat, whilst spending lots of time out exploring. House cats stay indoors and are generally good for petting and companionship.
What can we say? Dogs are a big favourite! They don’t call dogs ‘man’s best friend’ for nothing that’s for sure! A dog is the only animal who will love you more than they love themselves. Dogs are such happy little souls and with the right care and attention, they can become a welcomed part of the family. Puppies and children become long-term friends and they grow up together. Of course, a dog needs to be walked and nurtured so you should only consider owning a dog if you are able to commit to taking it regular walks and feeds and engaging in playtime. Dogs also need trips to the vet, as do cats, so a dog is probably the biggest responsibility in terms of cost and care.
These are our favourite pets, but of course, it’s up to you! Don’t forget that a pet is a serious move as it is a living creature who must be cared for. You have to make a decision about what’s right for your level of financial and time commitment. Have fun!
If you’d like to share any stories about animal antics with us, we would love to hear from you!
Our next blog is about how to motivate fussy eaters to try new foods!
Big love until next time…