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Choosing a Pet
Choosing a pet depends on your lifestyle and the age of your child or children. How much do you want to be involved in its care? (Remembering most parents will have to have some involvement whichever pet is chosen to make sure it is cared for properly and not neglected). How much time to you have? How much money do you want to spend?
Some pets are very long lived, and an animal that's bought when a child is 10, may well be staying with you when they go to college or move away from home. Are you prepared to take on that responsibility?
Look at the options below and see some of our suggestions for a suitable pet for your family.
Again, can be fairly low cost to buy, especially if you know of someone who has had a litter of kittens! Ongoing cost is cheaper that a dog, and they don't need to be given exercise. They will live 10 to 15 years, or even more, so are a long term commitment, and will need looking after when you go on holiday. Young cats and kittens enjoy playing with children (but watch their claws!), but older cats can prefer to be left alone. Most cats do enjoy a cuddle though. Like dogs, cats shed, and if anyone is allergic to pet hair will be a poor choice of pet. Read more!
A PET THAT'S CHEAP TO BUY AND TO FEED
Pets you may want to consider are:
Rabbits or Hamsters
For an inside pet a hamster is ideal - having a relatively short life span, and cheap to buy. After the initial outlay of a cage, the food costs are minimal. A great pet to introduce your child to the responsibility of caring for an animal without long term commitment.
Rabbits live longer - often longer than a child's interest in caring for them! However, although the hutch can be expensive to buy, the rabbit itself, and the ongoing food costs are minimal. Read more!
An alternative, and one which rewards you by giving lovely fresh eggs are hens. Hens can be an interesting introduction to caring for animals, and ongoing costs will quite literally be chicken feed! Read more!
AN ANIMAL THAT DOESN'T NEED A LOT OF TIME TO LOOK AFTER!
Pets you might want to consider are:
Fish must come top of this list. Apart from a few seconds a day to put a pinch of fish food in, and a water change every 3 weeks or so, fish are easy pets to keep. When you go away, just put in a feed block and they will look after themselves until you come home. To keep particularly the more exotic and pretty species you do need to do some research and make sure the water conditions are right. Read more!
A PET WHICH IS INTERESTING AND WHICH WILL HELP MY CHILD LEARN
Pets you might want to consider:
Cage birds need feeding daily with a varied diet, and water changed. They do need time and attention. Varieties such as budgies or canaries are good starter birds - but with any type of bird it's important to understand their individual requirements before making a purchase. Some smaller types react badly to stress, so are not suitable for households where there is a lot of noise or action going on. Read more!
All animals will help your child develop a sense of responsibility for caring for something that depends upon them. To keep reptiles you need more than a sense of commitment - you need to research how best to keep the animal of your choice, and how to mimic the environment it would live in in the wild. Some reptiles are desert creatures, others jungle reptiles. Each has its own needs which your child will have to understand to keep their pet well and healthy. Keeping a reptile is an education in itself.
Horses and Ponies
Okay, so not everyone can afford to keep a horse or pony of their own, but riding is a sport, and your child will benefit physically from learning to ride. Riding stables very often will welcome an offer of help from older children, and as well as riding they will learn how to look after and care for a large animal. Read more!
PETS WHICH BECOME PART OF THE HOUSEHOLD OR FAMILY
Pets you may want to consider are:
Can be fairly low cost to buy if you are not looking for a pedigree, or are happy to take on a rescue animal. The ongoing cost of keeping will depend on the size of the dog, and of course you do need to consider vet bills etc. Dogs need exercise, and you must be willing to commit to walking them a couple of times a day. A dog will live 10 years plus, so it is a long term commitment, and you need to consider what you will do if you want to go away on holiday. Dogs do make great playmates for children, but do have teeth and can bite if not handled properly!