Pets and kids often go together swimmingly like, well, a fish in water. Not only are pets a great way for children to learn how to be responsible, kind and gentle, but they also can offer children physical and emotional benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control, pets help lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and feelings of loneliness. Pets that need to be walked regularly provide exercise.
When choosing your child’s first pet, consider the following options:
Fish can make a perfect introduction to the world of pet ownership. After all, it doesn’t get much simpler than having a fish as your first family pet. Goldfish and beta fish are two species that don’t need filters or aerators in their tank, since they can live comfortably in still water. Fish do require regular feeding and cleaning, and so young children may need help with both tasks. Avoid overfeeding, the most common problem faced by fish owners.
There’s good reason why dogs are known as “man’s best friend.” These companionable animals live naturally in packs, so they tend to develop especially strong bonds with humans. In addition, dogs are simply fun. They love to play, enjoy walking outside, and serve as loyal playmates.
However, dogs require a lot of care, so consider them as pets for older children who are ready to accept the responsibility. Although your dog may be your best buddy, never leave a dog alone with a young child, for his or her safety.
Unlike dogs who thrive on attention and closeness, cats tend to be more solitary and some are even quite aloof. Nonetheless your child will undoubtedly love cuddling with a warm, fuzzy kitty friend – when kitty lets them. Cats require regular feeding. When keeping a cat as an indoor pet, you’ll have to consider who’ll be in charge of changing the litter box.
There’s also the allergy issue, this can apply to some dogs as well. Children who are born into homes with cats tend to experience less risk of allergies, but the opposite can be true when you bring a cat into a home with older children. Because cats may scratch or bite, you’ll never want to leave one alone with a young child.
Gerbils and Hamsters
If your child isn’t quite ready for a larger animal, but a fish just won’t cut it, one of the best pets for your child might be a hamster or gerbil. These nocturnal rodents tend to be low maintenance, needing just regular food and water and a safe cage in which to play. Don’t forget to clean out the cage regularly, or the odor can be overwhelming.
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