9 of the Best Pets for Kids
Here's everything you need to know about nine animals that make perfect family pets!
Are you on the hunt for a new pet for your family? While there are many perks to adding an animal companion to your brood, it's important to remember that this is a big decision that requires careful consideration. Once you're sure your kids are ready to take on the responsibility that comes with having a pet, you still need to figure out which kind of animal would be the perfect fit for your family.
Here's an overview of nine of the best pets for kids:
Temperaments and energy levels vary by dog breed, so it's easy to find one that works well with your family. But you must remember that taking care of this particular type of pet requires a substantial amount of time and money. Dogs need regular exercise, grooming and training, and they can't be left alone for extended periods of time.
As a result, a dog may not be the best pet for your family if no one is home during the day -- unless you want to hire a dog walker or send your pup to daycare. You should also keep in mind that you or your kids may be allergic to certain types of dog fur.
Cats can be very affectionate, but they're also very independent. This particular type of pet is great if you want a furry friend to cuddle with but aren't ready to take on all the responsibility that comes with having a dog. Having a cat is still a big commitment, though. They need food, water, care and attention on a daily basis. And don't forget about cleaning out the litter box! Once again, allergies may also come into play.
Rabbits are active and social, so they need plenty of stimulation. You should try to let your rabbit out of its cage every once in a while. When you do, however, be sure to keep a watchful eye on it! They may be small, but rabbits can create a lot of damage if they're not contained.
You also need to keep in mind that a rabbit's cage needs regular cleaning. And though they can be affectionate, many rabbits don't like to be held, which may be difficult for younger kids to understand.
- Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs are one of the best types of pets for kids because they're small and full of personality. These animals can startle easily, though, so it's important for you to put their cage somewhere where they feel secure. The adorable rodents need regular brushing and playtime, as well. They do best when they have a guinea pig friend to keep them company.
A turtle needs to live in a specific type of environment to really thrive. Everything from the temperature to the lighting must be just right, so you have to be ready and willing to set up those conditions. You also need to remember that turtles have particularly long lifespans compared to most other pets, so you might have to care for them long after your kids are off to college.
Keep in mind that not all states allow the sale or keeping of turtles, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you shouldn't keep a turtle if you have children under the age of five, because these animals can spread salmonella.
Birds are intelligent and social pets. Though they spend most of their time in cages, it is ideal if you can provide them with a safe place in your home to fly freely now and then. Birds really appreciate the time to play and bond. In fact, you may want to consider having more than one so your feathered friend doesn't get too lonely. These pets do particularly well in a family with kids who are a bit older, because little ones may be afraid of a flying animal.
If your family has a particularly busy schedule, you might want to consider getting a lizard. They can be fairly low-maintenance. While the habitat and feeding needs of lizards vary by type, most don't require extensive grooming or even a great deal of food.
Lizards must be held gently, so they do better with older kids. Though these pets don't require a lot of attention, they are still a big commitment because many can have long lifespans.
Hamsters are playful and cuddly, but fairly independent. Although they're fairly low-maintenance, you have to clean their cages on a weekly basis and ensure that they get enough exercise. On average, hamsters have a short lifespan, so it's important to keep in mind that your kids might get a lesson in dealing with the loss of a pet sooner rather than later.
Although fish are clearly not the cuddly type, they still require some care and attention. Most importantly, you have to remember to clean out their tanks. Though fish may not be snuggle in your lap, they're fun to look at and soothing to have around. If your family has a hectic schedule, these underwater friends can make a great pet.
For more advice, check out Choose the Right Pet for Your Family.
Can you think of any other animals that belong on this list of the best pets for kids? Let us know in the comments below!
Shahrzad Warkentin is a mom of two and the owner of an energetic rescue dog named Charlie. As a freelance writer, she has had several years of experience covering parenting, pet care and health.