Pets are great companions to children. Most animals that make good pets for kids are small and cuddly, so kids enjoy taking care of them. They help children develop a sense of responsibility, empathy, and love for others as they learn to care for their pets.
As a parent, did you have a pet while growing up? If your answer is in the affirmative, you already know the work and responsibilities that come with bringing a pet home. You’ll need to hold your child’s hand while taking care of their pet and guide them through so that they’ll have a smooth and joyful experience.
This article provides a guide on what you need to consider when choosing a pet for your child and the best small pets suitable for your kid.
Factors to Consider When Choosing A Pet for your Child
To know which pet is best for your child, you must consider several factors. I know children can be very persistent in asking for something they love but take your time to examine these factors and rule them out one at a time so that you can get the best for your child.
- Allergies – how is your child’s health? Are they allergic to any pets? Like dog and cat allergies, people with pet allergies experience allergic reactions when their skin comes into contact with harmless protein present in the pet’s saliva and urine. If your child shows any allergy symptoms while around a cat, consider getting one that will be safe for them.
- Pet’s life expectancy – How long will the pet live? Some pets live long enough, and your child will grow up taking care of them. There are others that live through a season, and you’ll be required to replace them.
- Space – How much space will the pet need considering the space you have in your house? This should guide you on getting a bigger pet that requires more space or a smaller pet that requires lesser space.
- Your child’s preferences – Does your child want one that they can hold and cuddle? Or do they want to take care of it behind the glass with minimal contact? A fish will not be the right choice for a child who wants a companion and cuddles from the small animal.
- Commitment – How much attention does the pet need? Can you commit too much time to take care of the pet? You can get a pet, which requires the amount of commitment you can provide depending on your schedule.
- Cost – What’s your budget for the pets? You don’t want to strain your pocket in the name of buying a pet. Look out for one that comfortably fits your budget and go for it.
Best Small Pets for Kids
Here are some of the best pets you can get for your child:
Guinea pigs are sociable animals that love to interact and being handled. You can tell when they are happy being, they will go away squeaking happily. You don’t want them to be lonely, so it’s advisable to keep two simultaneously.
They have a lifespan of about seven years. If you get one for your child as their first pet, they’ll grow up taking care of the guinea pigs until they are old enough to choose a different more interactive pet.
They need attention, which a child can comfortably handle in feeding and cleaning their space. Supplement food is good for the guinea pigs, especially for food rich in Vitamin C. Moderate space will be enough to place a sizeable hutch so that they can move around and exercise, as well as easy feeding.
Small children love pets that are fluffy and easy to play with. A rabbit ticks both boxes, and so it’s a preferred choice for children. They have a long lifespan of up to 12 years, so your child can grow into their teenage while caring for the rabbits. If their interest in the rabbits increases as they grow, they can get them to multiply and have several of them.
They need quite a bit of attention as they’ll need to be groomed, especially if you get the long-haired type. When choosing a rabbit for your child, you might need to consider their sex and get at least two of them.
A drawback about rabbits is that they need very gentle care and a sense of safety. If they feel threatened by a rough child, they can easily bite and scratch your child. It would be a better choice to get a rabbit for a much older child who will understand how to take care of it gently.
Hamsters are cute, cuddly, and very friendly. They are a great choice as a first pet for your child because of their gentle nature. They have a short life span of about two years, which is ideal for getting your child started before choosing another pet.
Hamsters require little space to keep them. Therefore, they are also not very active and can be disappointing for a child who wants a playful pet.
When choosing a hamster for your child, keep in mind that a Syrian hamster makes a better pet, and you can get one since it is a solidarity animal and can do well alone. It’s a great choice if you are working on a small budget.
Rats? Yes. I’m not talking about the kind you see on the roadside in dustbins and sewers. Pet rats are adorable and are well kept and maintained to serve the purpose of a pet. They love attention and snuggle every time they feel valued. You can keep them in pairs and let your child enjoy playing with them.
Rats are known to be intelligent creatures, so you can quickly train them. They will give your child a fulfilling experience, and they make a great choice as first pets because of their short lifespan, if about three years.
They require little space and can be very cost-effective in buying and maintaining them. Since rats are rodents, it’s essential to get them vaccinated before bringing them to your child to make sure that your child is safe around them.
They are bigger than the hamsters but possess the same friendly and sociable characteristics. Gerbils are as social as rabbits and guinea pigs, so you will need to buy at least two of them (same sex) so that they can keep each other company.
They are clean animals, so you will not have a hard time cleaning after them. They also need little space to keep them. Your child will enjoy playing with the gerbils and watching them play. They are active any time, so if your child is the curious type and prefers active pets, then gerbils are an excellent choice for them.
They can be a good option for a first pest as they live for about four years. By this time, your child will be ready to move to bigger pets that require more care and attention. If cost is a factor you are considering, gerbils will also tick that box because the initial cost is low and the maintenance.
Considering your child’s preferences, keeping fish can be an excellent option for your child’s first pet. The space required for the fishkeeping is dependent on factors like the type of fish you want to keep, the number of fish, and the other things you’ll need. These factors also matter when you consider how much it will cost you to keep fish as pets for your child.
Fish are a suitable choice for your child as they don’t require too much attention. You only need to ensure that they are fed at least once per day, water is changed or cleaned as it is supposed to, and the gentle handling that comes with it.
Fish bring a calming and relaxing effect as you watch them swim in the water. Watching them can be the right way for your child to unwind after a long day at school.
Cats and Dogs
These are the most popular pet choices for most families, as they are owned by the whole family and eventually integrated as part of the family. They require a lot of attention when it comes to taking care of them. You’ll need to take them to the vet often so that you can ensure they remain in good health around your children.
They come with a big responsibility to feed them, clean them, and commit themselves to take care of them. If your child wants a dog as a pet, they’ll enjoy taking them out for walks, playing and cuddling with them, and taking care of them generally.
The best thing about dogs is that you can efficiently train them so that it becomes easy for you to handle them. They have a longer lifespan than all the other pets we have discussed and, therefore, will be in the family for a longer time.
Cats are adorable and love cuddling. They can be ideal for the whole family, and your child will enjoy patting and cuddling with them. Apart from the maintenance costs incurred from feeding, treating, and taking care of them, the initial cost can also be a little high depending on the type of cat you get.
Other than getting toys for your child, getting a small pet for them can be a perfect idea. Not only will it keep your child distracted, but it will also offer companionship and friendship. If your child is the only child, consider getting them a pet.
We mentioned earlier the advantages of bringing a pet home. Your child will learn how to take care of something. They will develop empathy and love for animals and people. They will also learn to be responsible and accountable.
Pets will help your child grow mentally and be a source of relaxation and entertainment for them, which helps deal with anxiety.
If you are deciding on buying a pet for your child, consider all the factors that we mentioned earlier in this article so that you can ensure you make the best decision. Consult with your child to know their interests and preferences so that you can get them the pet of their choice.