Good Pets for Kids!
It may happen at different ages, but almost every parent will get asked this question at some point: Can we get a pet? For some maybe your child asks at a very young age, while for others, they might be a bit older before realizing they would love to have a pet join the family. No matter the age, it’s important to think about what are good pets for kids.
Having a pet (or pets) is certainly a wonderful addition to any family, but it is also a major responsibility. If your child is asking you for a pet, be sure you have a conversation (at the very least) before deciding to move forward. Do they understand all that is involved with raising a pet? Are the willing to help take care of it? Just because you see your next-door neighbor with a dog doesn’t mean you are ready to bring a dog into your home!
So, are you thinking about making the jump into pet life? Let’s talk through some of the benefits of having pets, major things to consider before making a final decision, and finally, some of the best small pets for kids!
Why Are Pets a Good Idea?
Pets really are great for a number of reasons. From teaching responsibility, to simply improving moods, they can be the perfect addition to your family! Here are some of the top reasons why pets are great for kids:
✓ Teaching responsibility: Having a pet is a great way to get your child used to having serious responsibilities! Having something to look after and care for is one of the best ways to instill this quality in your child from an early age. If your child is very young they likely won’t be able to take care of them on their own, but you can still have them help you with feeding them or walking them or cleaning their cage. As they get older, they can take on more of the responsibilities themselves!
✓ Companionship: A pet is a great friend for your child and a way to comfort them, no matter what has happened during the day. While social interaction and friendships with people are clearly crucial for your child, having a pet companion is a great addition to their life that can provide serious emotional support.
✓ Promoting exercise: While this partially depends on the type of pet you choose, for most, the pet will force everyone in the family to be a bit more active. Whether that is taking a dog out for a walk, or even jumping around the living room to play with a cat or a rabbit. The earlier you can promote healthy habits like being active, the more likely your child will stick with those habits throughout their entire life!
✓ Compassion: Having a pet forces a child to care about something other than themself. This can serve as an important lesson to consider the needs of others. While it might just start with the pet, it will help instill this value so that they will extend that care and respect to everything and everyone that they encounter in life.
✓ Patience: Whether you have to train the animal, or simply have less time to spend playing and more time on chores like bathing the pet or cleaning its cage, this will help your child be more patient and understanding of ‘the real world’ and issues that arise and things that have to be dealt with on a daily basis.
Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet
We know, we just covered a great list that talks about all the awesome skills your child can develop by having a pet. But that doesn’t mean that it is the right decision for every family!
Before making the decision to get a pet, there are some major things you need to consider first. If you get through this list and feel like your family is ready for a bet, then absolutely go for it! If not, consider if there are changes you can make to your lifestyle, living environment, or possibly even your job in order to better accommodate having a pet. If you cannot, then now might not be the right time to adopt a pet.
It is most important that all pets that are adopted – whether it is a dog, a cat, a fish, or anything in between, are placed into loving homes that can properly take care of them and provide them with a loving home! Here are some major things to consider before making a final decision:
Can you afford it: Animals can be expensive! While they may not be as much of an added expense as a child, it is still a significant enough cost that you should consider before making a final decision. Keep in mind, you don’t just have to account for initial adoption expenses, think about costs down the line like food, toys, bedding, and vet costs.
If you live in a rental property, there are sometimes fees for having a pet, depending on the type and size of the pet you have. This could be a one time fee or could be a monthly fee. Make sure you are okay to spend this amount before deciding (and telling your child) that they can get a pet.
Is it allowed: Before you can check how much it will cost if you live in a rental space, you need to first check if it is allowed! Some apartment buildings or landlords do not want to have pets living in the space. There may be some exceptions, but you need to know your options before getting your heart set on a certain type of pet.
Do you have the space needed to properly care for their physical needs: If you are getting a fish, you don’t need to worry about space. However, for most animals, they will need at least some amount of space to walk around and exercise. If you are in a small apartment, that might not be an option. If you live close to a park and are able to take the pet out for regular walks that is great, but if not, you might need to consider a smaller pet that requires less exercise.
Does your schedule allow for it: If your entire family is out of the house all day at work and school, certain types of pets may not be the right fit for you (such as ones that need a lot of social interaction or exercise). However, if you are at home and can meet those physical and emotional needs, you have more options.
Are there any allergies in the family: This is a big one! You should know in advance if anyone in your family is allergic to any type of animal so that you don’t make the mistake of adopting a pet and then having someone suffer from horrible allergies.
Do you have a support system: While this isn’t crucial, it is important to think about neighbors or family who live close by and if they can step in to watch the pet when you go out of town or if you simply need help to take care of them. If you do not have this as an option, check and see if there are pet boarding centers near you and if you could afford that cost when you travel.
Best Small Pets for Kids
If you have made it to this point, hooray! You are likely strongly considering getting a pet for your child (and really, your entire family). Like we mentioned earlier, small pets are a great choice for kids. They are also a great choice if you live in a smaller environment.
Here are our top picks for small pets that are great for kids:
Hamsters are great small pets for kids! They are fairly active and fun pets, but one major thing to keep in mind is that they are nocturnal. This makes them a great pet option if your entire family is out at school and work all day and only has time in the evening to play. A hamster would be a great addition to your family.
For this reason, we recommend getting a hamster if your children are school-aged (and say even in middle school or older) so that they understand that hamsters are nocturnal and can stay up a bit later in the evening in order to get some time to play with them.
Is there anything cuter than a rabbit? In our eyes, not really! Rabbits make for great pets if you are willing to spend the time to bring them into your family. Rabbits have the potential to be awesome pets, but they are not the easiest to train and make comfortable, so that is something to keep in mind.
Rabbits can be a bit temperamental and for that reason, we only recommend them if you are at home most of the time and can devote time to caring for them and training them. They also often do better in pairs, so that is something to consider as well. Once they are trained, they make for great cuddly companions for your kids and your family!
3. Hermit crabs
Looking for something low maintenance? Try a hermit crab! Most of the work you will do is upfront to make sure they have the proper environment. Hermit crabs need space to move around and lots of sand to dig in. They also like to have spaces that they can crawl in and out of, so make sure to invest in a great ‘house’ for them! While they aren’t cuddly like a rabbit or other furry friend, they are still fun animals that have the potential to be with you for a long time- they can live up to 30 years!
4. Lizards/other reptiles
Another pet that is relatively low maintenance is a lizard or other similar reptile. You do lose out on the ‘cuddly’ factor, but you make up for it with fun! Lizards are fun animals to have that you can pick up and play with, but you do want to be sure you can afford to have the right environment for them to spend most of their time in.
Most importantly, you will need a heat lamp to make sure you can attain the perfect temperature needed to keep your reptilian family member happy. Most reptiles also eat live animals (like crickets and other bugs) so that is something to keep in mind as well. If that freaks you or your kids out, maybe go with a different pet!
Finally, if you do want a cute little pet for your child, a chinchilla might be a great option. These pets do also tend to be nocturnal, so keep that in mind if you are looking for pets for toddlers, they might not be the best option. Overall they are fairly low maintenance, but one weird quirk to keep in mind? They need to take dust baths! Yes, instead of providing a water bowl for a standard ‘bath,’ chinchillas need a dust bath about 2 times a week.
There is specific chinchilla dust that you will need to buy, and as you can imagine, you will need to be prepared to clean up the dust after the bath is complete. This is sure to be something your child would love to see, so it may be a great option if you are looking for something a bit more unique.
We didn’t include fish on our main list simply because they have such a low level of interaction. You can’t really play with, touch, or snuggle with a fish. However, they do make a great option for a very low maintenance pet that could work as a great ‘starter’ pet.
If your child successfully takes care of the fish, consider getting them something with a bit more responsibility like a hamster or a chinchilla.
Bringing a pet into your family is a great way to not just bring something joyful into the family, but a way to teach your kids valuable skills like responsibility, compassion, and patience. Small pets, in particular, are a great option if you want a pet that your child can play with and help to take care of. Our list of good pets for kids has hopefully given you some ideas if you are starting to think about adopting a pet.
Before making your final decision, make sure you have thought through important factors like price, space, and time needed to care for the pet. If you (and your kids) are ready to take on the responsibility, you should absolutely consider adopting a pet and adding them to your family. They are sure to make a great addition that everyone will love for years to come!