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Housepets and Kids

February 15, 2024

Did you realize that more than two-thirds of households in America have pets? The American Pet Products Association reports that 70% of households own a pet. This percentage has risen in recent years, up from 56% in 1988. The combination of pets and children is not only adorable but also timeless. Viewing pictures of our furry friends with their little human companions always brings warmth to the heart. Pets offer numerous benefits to children and contribute to the completeness of our homes and families. However, it’s important to consider certain factors. A local Pendleton, IN veterinarian delves into the topic of kids and pets in this article.

How Does Having a Pet Benefit Kids?

There are numerous ways pets enrich children’s lives, and their transformative effect can be unexpected!

  • Mental Development: Current research indicates that having pets can positively impact children’s cognitive development by improving their ability to interpret nonverbal cues. Additionally, reading to pets like Fido or Fluffy as children learn to read can be beneficial, as pets offer attentive listening.
  • Fewer Allergies: It’s interesting to note that children brought up with pets tend to have fewer allergies. Surprisingly, exposure to dust, fur, and dander can enhance children’s immune systems.
  • Complete the Family: With their special presence, pets effortlessly make houses feel like homes, adding to the wholeness of our families and granting children a feeling of security.
  • Responsibility: Children of all ages can contribute to pet care, from feeding fish to softly petting hamsters, promoting a sense of responsibility.
  • Social Skills: Children develop their social skills with pets, who provide unwavering love, hugs, and a constant source of comfort.
  • Live-In Therapists: Pets serve as invaluable companions for children grappling with diverse challenges, including autism. Notably, pets like Fluffy and Fido are adept listeners, offering unwavering support.
  • Stress Relief: After a challenging day, it’s common to seek comfort from our furry friends. Whether it’s Fluffy’s calming purrs or Fido’s affectionate gestures, their presence offers a comforting embrace that extends to children too.
  • Pets aren’t just great playmates and nap buddies; they can also be protective of children, providing an additional perk.

At What Age Is it Suitable for a Child to Get a Pet?

Children reach maturity at different rates, making it difficult to determine a specific age when they’re ready for pets. The decision depends on both the child’s individual development and the type of pet being considered. Generally, it’s recommended to wait until a child is at least five years old. At this age, children are still refining motor skills and may experience occasional tantrums, which could unsettle pets.

Having a young child doesn’t preclude you from getting a pet; it simply means you’ll likely assume the bulk of the pet’s care. It’s important to closely oversee interactions between the child and the pet.

Are Children’s Happiness Levels Elevated by Pets?

Pets become mood boosters for kids, offering entertainment through playful antics. Whether it’s Fido chasing a toy, Fluffy pouncing on a catnip mouse, or smaller animals enjoying treats, the live-in entertainment often brings laughter and smiles.

What Kind of Pet is Best for a Child’s First Experience?

Selecting the right pet is pivotal for a positive experience. Typically, people lean towards smaller pets initially, such as gerbils, hamsters, or Guinea pigs. While these options share similarities, they each have unique traits. Guinea pigs, being the largest and most sociable, require companionship and thrive in social settings. Conversely, hamsters and gerbils, though small and cute, are delicate creatures. Despite their generally gentle nature, they may nip when startled. Considering these distinctions is essential when choosing a pet, taking into account factors like size, social needs, and temperament.

Goldfish or Betta fish can also be fitting selections. Moreover, certain reptiles can be suitable pets for older kids.

Dogs and cats are undeniably wonderful companions, but their interaction with young children requires careful consideration. Fluffy might feel unsettled around a noisy or clumsy toddler, suggesting it might be best to wait until the Terrible Twos phase is over. Additionally, Fido should be a dog with a calm and patient temperament.

Explore options through research to find the best fit for you. Additionally, seek advice from your Pendleton, IN veterinarian for valuable insights.

How Can I Determine When It’s Suitable to Get My Child a Pet?

Is your youngster expressing a desire for a pet? While there are numerous advantages, it’s crucial to navigate potential drawbacks carefully. Children often shift interests swiftly, risking neglect of pet care. However, certain signs can help determine their readiness. Consistent requests for a pet may indicate genuine interest. Additionally, observing their responsibility levels in daily tasks like chores and homework can provide valuable insights. Do they require frequent reminders, or do they demonstrate initiative in fulfilling their duties? By considering these factors, you can assess whether your child is prepared for the responsibilities of pet ownership and make an informed decision aligned with their readiness and commitment.

Your child’s age is significant. A ten-year-old may handle a puppy’s care independently, but a four-year-old may not be capable of doing so.

What Tasks Can Children Undertake to Aid With Pets?

Determining the level of responsibility for your child is crucial. Will they be tasked with walking the dog or taking care of the cat’s feeding and litter box duties? Supervision is necessary, and you should be prepared to step in if necessary. Nevertheless, even young children can contribute to pet care.

Here are a handful of things kids can take care of:

  • Feed the pet
  • Fill water dishes
  • Clean cages/bowls
  • Change litter
  • Play with the pet
  • Brush the pet
  • Make DIY toys
  • Make DIY houses/furniture
  • Walk Dogs
  • Read to the pet
  • Help with training
  • Name the pet

Even children can participate in selecting the pet. For instance, if you’re getting a hamster, take your child to the pet store to pick one out.

What Are Some Safety Measures to Consider With Children and Pets?

Always prioritize safety. The biggest concern is selecting the correct pet.

Here are some other ideas to consider:

  • Regularly trim your pet’s nails to prevent scratching incidents.
  • Regularly visit your veterinarian with your pet.
  • Make certain that children wash their hands thoroughly before and after touching the pet or its belongings.
  • Keep a close eye on interactions between kids and pets. Don’t leave them unsupervised until you’re confident they’ll be okay.
  • Familiarize your child with pet body language essentials, such as knowing that a wagging tail means happiness in dogs but indicates the opposite in cats.
  • Highlight the value of treating pets with kindness and empathy. Like us, they deserve to be treated with compassion!

When playing with a small pet, suggest your child sits or kneels. This decreases the distance the pet might fall if it jumps or slips.

Reach out to your vet for more insight.

Children benefit greatly from having pets; learning about kindness, friendship, and empathy. Pets offer unconditional love and serve as wonderful playmates and cuddle companions. However, it’s vital to choose the right pet and supervise interactions closely.

Do you need assistance with pet care? Contact us at Lapel Animal Clinic in the area of Pendleton, IN, today!