Adopting a pet is a great way to teach your kids about responsibility, while also giving them a companion to spend time with. However, it’s hard to know what type of animal will make the best pet for your family. Adopting is always a big decision, no matter how big or small your pet is. Pettsie lays out the steps you should take before welcoming a new pet into the home below.
Do Your Research
Bunnies, hamsters and gerbils probably come to mind when you think about pets for children. While these animals can make good companions under the right circumstances, it’s important to do some reading beforehand to know exactly what you’re getting into.
Rabbits and “pocket pets” like hamsters might be adorable, but they tend to be very afraid of people unless they are well socialized before meeting kids. These animals are also active during the evening, night and morning hours rather than during the day. This means they’re unlikely to be in the mood for play-time when your kids are up and about.
Instead of a hamster or another pocket pal, BabyCenter recommends getting a guinea pig. Not only are guinea pigs generally more social and friendly, but they also don’t sleep all day. On top of that, they also have a longer lifespan than hamsters, meaning you don’t have to have a difficult conversation with your kids after only one or two years. However, guinea pigs can be a bit messy, and it’s important for kids to always wash their hands after playing with them.
Rats and fish are other top choices for kids, whereas birds and ferrets are other animals to avoid. If you want to go a more classic route, keep in mind that many cat and dog breeds are perfect choices for children too.
Some pets, like most dogs, require more human interaction than others. You should make lifestyle choices with this in mind; if you have the option to work remotely, that is often ideal. Similarly, if you're going back to school, a flexible online program allows you to complete coursework from your home computer and on your own schedule, freeing you up to multitask and care for your pet as needed.
Budget for Your Pet
You’ll want to adjust your monthly budget before adopting a pet. Many pets are cheap or even free to adopt, but it’s important to factor in the monthly cost for food, bedding, toys, treats and other expenses you might face. Your new companion may have or may develop special dietary needs, so be sure to consider the extra cost of formulated foods, such as cat food for kitties with sensitive stomachs. In addition, be sure to consider how much a specific breed of animal will cost long-term to make sure you can afford care for its whole life.
Veterinary care is another cost to consider. Small animals tend to have lower vet bills than cats or dogs, but you’ll want to have room in your budget for illnesses and regular checkups no matter what pet you have. U.S. News & World Report notes that pet insurance can help cover veterinary exam fees, medication, emergencies and other services your pet might need. Be sure to read up on different policies before making a decision so you can get the most for your money.
Budgeting for a pet is sometimes tricky with all the costs involved. But as a hidden bonus, it provides the perfect opportunity for you to discuss financial responsibility with your kids.
Assign ResponsibilitiesMany parents adopt pets with the idea that their kids will take care of feeding, grooming and cleanup as part of the deal. However, in reality, this isn’t always what happens. Before adopting a pet, Global Animal suggests making sure you have a discussion with your kids about who will take care of these chores.
As you plan ahead for pet responsibilities, remember that even small animals like guinea pigs or rats can require a lot of care. If you did some preliminary research to pick a good breed, now is a good time to give your kids some reading material about what responsibilities to expect. There are many kid-friendly books about raising different types of pets.
Once you bring a pet into the home, it’s important that everyone actually follows through on their responsibilities. Using a pet chore chart like this free printable from Sunny Day Family can help you reach your goals together.
Welcoming a pet into the family is an exciting time, especially for children. However, it’s important to make sure kids understand all of the responsibility that comes with pet ownership. Choosing a breed wisely and talking about chores ahead of time will help you make a happy home for your new pet.
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