Pets and Children

Having a pet can have many benefits for your child. We discuss the different species and the qualities of each to help you make an informed decision.

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Having a pet can have many benefits to your child and their development and provide lots of enjoyment for both adults and children. A pet can be a big commitment they as need careful thought before deciding to buy a pet.

If your child (or yourself) has any health concerns please speak to your GP before deciding to get a pet.

What Type Of Pet Should I Get?

There are many different species that all have different qualities that need to be considered before deciding on what pet to get.

  • Dogs – often very friendly and encourage outdoor activity but require a lot of looking after.
  • Cats – playful and relatively easy to care for but can scratch.
  • Rabbits – can be kept inside or outside, require regular hutch cleaning, best kept in groups/pairs.
  • Guinea Pigs – gentle and rarely bite and enjoy human contact, best kept in groups/pairs.
  • Hamsters, gerbils, mice (small rodents) – can be fun to watch and handle but require frequent cage cleaning, have a short life span and can bite.
  • Fish – enjoyable to watch but need cleaning and can’t be handled so children can get bored.

The pet needs to be introduced to children in a controlled manner. Both the pet and the child can become distressed if this introduction unsupervised. Ideally the child should be told not to pull on the fur, make loud noises, make sudden movements etc. but this depends on the age of the child. Some animals can take a while to get used to children and supervision is needed during this adjustment.

Benefits of Children Having Pets

Pets can help your child to develop. The can help physical development e.g. motor skills such as running, throwing balls etc. Pets also help to develop your child emotionally and socially through the interactions between your child and the pet and your child and other people involved with the pet.

Pets also help children with learning. As you child grows they can become more involved with learning the best ways to look after the pet and how to tend to their needs.

Remember that as the adult and the person who made the initial commitment to care for your pet for the duration of his life, the ultimate responsibility for his care falls to you. You should supervise your developing child’s interaction with and responsibility for your pet until they are of an age to be both willing and able to take care of their own pet totally solo, and be ready to step in if needed to make sure that all of your pets needs are taken care of.

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