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Best Pets for Small Children

January 16th, 2023
Chrissie
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Best Pets for Small Children
Owning a pet can be a really wonderful experience for a child and can teach them so much about caring for animals and how their pet will depend on them. Having a pet also teaches your child how much they vary tremendously from us. If you spend time choosing the correct pet for your small child it will bring the whole family many years of pleasure.

There are some fundamentals to consider first such as space to keep the animal and the amount of time that be devoted to its care. When you do choose your family pet, it is very important to teach your child to respect their new pet and to show them how they should behaviour around their pet and how they should always be very gentle when handling them. Good hygiene is important from Day One so teach your child to always wash their hands after touching their pet.

Dogs

A gentle natured cuddly dog is the most classic choice for a family pet. Wonderful though they are, having a dog will take up your time and require some effort – especially if you want a puppy who hasn’t been house trained! Your dog will need to be exercised every day – whatever the weather! If you are going to introduce a dog to your family, you need to ensure that it has been well-socialised with young children. Although your child can be involved in the day-to-day care of your dog it is unfair to burden your child with such a big responsibility on their own.

Before you decide on a breed, it is good to carry out some research as to which breeds are particularly good with young children. These include such breeds as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels and Boxers. If you do decide to give a home to a rescue dog, it really is important to understand its background and also to ensure that it has been well socialised. Another important consideration is that there will be regular Vet’s bills for check-ups and annual immunisation.
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Cats

Small cuddle kittens are truly irresistible, but it has to be said that they will not remain that size for long! Cats make a great family pet but unfortunately, they can be very independent and will often only accept cuddles on their terms! Adult cats do vary tremendously in temperament so it is important to check that a potential feline friend actually likes and will tolerate children. This is particularly important if you are getting the cat from a rescue centre. Many parents feel that it is best to get a young kitten to introduce to the family as they are more adaptable. Cats definitely take up less space than dogs and don’t need to be walked, but they will need to use a cat flap or cat litter tray – the latter can be tricky with a toddler!
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Rabbits

Having a family rabbit is great fun but your bunny will require quite a lot of work. Rabbits have loads of personality and are very social. They really benefit from handling every day and prefer to live close to the family. Rabbits can live indoors and be trained to use a cat litter tray, but their hutch should be slightly away from the main family rooms as too much noise can stress them and they do need to have the chance to relax. Alternatively a hutch close to the house where they are well protected from the weather is good. Rabbits do need to be entertained because they start chewing when they become bored.
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Birds

Pet birds can be a fun pet for children. Some birds can be taught how to talk or whistle and all caged birds will relish time outside their cage every day. All birds need plenty of attention and really relish it. The most popular pet bird is the parakeet – budgie – but canaries can be fun and cockatiels are more expensive but are truly fun birds who will often start mimicking different sounds such as the telephone!
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Rodents

Under the term ‘rodents’ comes a great variety of smaller pets including including hamsters, guinea pigs, and gerbils. They are all warm-blooded mammals and are relatively straight forward to look after and a real bonus is that a good-sized cage does not take up too much space. Guinea pigs and gerbils are happy in pairs, but it is best to choose the same sex as they are prolific breeders! Hamsters are a more solitary animal and are quite happy amusing themselves in their cage, especially if it has a wheel! All of these pets really benefit from being handled every day, but the hazard is that they do occasionally nip if they feel threatened and their teeth are amazingly sharp!

Another rodent that has its fans is the rat which is remarkably intelligent and loves to spend time with humans!
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Fish

If your lifestyle is not ideal for other pets, you will be surprised and delighted with how easy a pet fish is to care for. The classic choice is the goldfish that lives in cold water, but they can be tricky to keep healthy as they need a good-sized tank that is changed regularly and the water kept at a constant temperature of 24-28ºC. There are all types of goldfish to choose from including ones with silver and black scales and fantails. Other choices of cold water fish including the cat fish, Zebra Danio and Betta fish (Siamese fighting fish). Brine shrimp are another interesting fish to keep.

If your child does seem keen to have a pet, it is a good idea to perhaps ‘pet sit’ for family or friends so that your child can learn what the responsibility of having a pet entails. The important point to remember is that pets like dogs and cats can live many years so consideration must be made about the cost, long term plans for the family and annual holidays...
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Chrissie x

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