Adding a New Furry Family Member: What’s the Best Pet for Kids?
You’ve decided to add a new non-human member to your family. Congratulations! Adding a new member to your family is an exciting time, and you’re sure to see your kids jumping for joy when this new friend comes through the door for the first time. Not to mention, he or she will benefit from being adopted, as well – you’ll quickly see the extent to which this works great, both ways!
A pet is an excellent step in teaching younger children about love, friendship, responsibility, patience, and more. Pets can also teach your kids responsibilities and make fantastic companions for parents, too, for years to come.
While doing your research and seriously starting to look around, you may wonder what type of pet to get. More specifically, which is the best pet for kids? There are so many different species to choose from and you want everyone to be happy and safe.
From amphibians and reptiles, to mammals and birds, to even farm animals, people will try to convert almost any animal they think will be “cool” or “fun” into a pet, which is not a good idea.
An animal should be adopted based on what works best for your family, in a practical sense, not just what your children think could be the wackiest option]so they can brag to their friends – no matter how much they may beg. You must remind them this will be a living creature and not a toy.
Each pet comes with varying responsibilities. Some will require more time and effort in their care. One primary goal should be to educate yourself about the pet you’re interested in bringing home so that you won’t be forced to break any little hearts after the animal, you, or your kids, have already gotten attached. Animals can be easy to love, hard to forget, and tricky to rehome.
So, let’s jump right into how you can determine what animal will make the best pet for kids so that once you bring him or her home, the transition can be as smooth as possible.
Best Pet for Kids: Cats and Dogs are the Most Popular
Statistically speaking, dogs and cats are the most popular pet type, with dogs taking a significant lead. But even out of just these two main categories, the number of options available may still seem daunting to sift through when trying to find the best pet for kids.
There are all sorts of different breeds and each one has their own particular needs, which should help you create a pros and cons list. Here are some areas to consider in the process of choosing the best pet for kids.
Best Dog Breeds for Children
While it is important to teach your children proper behavior when you adopt a dog, both sides can be unpredictable, and this concept can be nerve-wracking as a parent. A dog can be well-trained but will still always be a real, live animal.
Some dog types are friendlier, more playful, more forgiving, and more even-tempered than others – these are qualities that you’ll probably desire when it comes to interacting with children.
For these reasons, the following dog breeds are known to be the best pet for kids:
If your child has allergies, that is an important factor to consider. Some dog breeds give off less dander (a primary allergen) than others. Learn more about the 13 of the Most Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds. Consider the following, which will be easier on sensitive little ones:
- Bichon Frise
- Yorkshire Terrier
Another factor to help determine whether you’re selecting the best pet for your kids is whether the animal is high or low maintenance. Some dogs will be trickier to groom, some will need more frequent exercise, some near-constant playtime or attention. Some of the “easy” dog breeds include:
When it comes to cats you’ll want to conduct similar, thorough, research. There are many different cat breeds with a variety of temperaments and maintenance requirements, too.
Best Cat Breeds for Children
The most common concern that arises before adopting a cat is claws and scratching. Some cats are great to cuddle with, but others will nip or playfully bite when they want attention. Cats scratch for a number of reasons, usually out of fear or anger, but ideally, they shouldn’t be breaking your skin.
If you are concerned that your child might rile up a cat, here are the most friendly breeds:
- Maine Coon
Another important factor to consider is allergies. It is very common for humans to be allergic to fur, but allergies to cats can also be caused by properties found in cat urine or saliva. If you are allergic to cats, these breeds are known to least affect allergies:
- Cornish Rex
- Devon Rex
Many people consider cats to be low maintenance compared to dogs – but just because they don’t need to be walked daily doesn’t mean they are void of needs. Coat length, skin, or diet, can be major contributing factors in their care. Not to mention, every pet will require food, toys, medical bills, and more. When it comes to which breed requires a less intense level of care, consider these lower maintenance cats:
- British Shorthair
Despite dogs and cats being the most popular type of pets, there are many others that are considered the best for kids. Keep reading to get more information about qualities that could make one of these other animals the best pet for kids.
Best Pet for Kids: Other Popular Animals Among Children
The animal you may decide is the best for your kids might not be a cuddly ball of fur! Some of the following favorite pets are common, while others might surprise you.
Having Reptiles for Pets
Like Indiana Jones, many people have a fear of snakes. If you fall into that category, snakes are not the pet for you. You’ll have to handle the snake much as your children, after all!
A snake is a reasonably low maintenance pet. They don’t need a ton of supplies (aside from a warming rock and food), they won’t need to be brushed, they shouldn’t trigger any allergies, and honestly, won’t do much in the habitat you provide them.
A potential drawback to consider: their food typically consists of live bugs and small mammals. You might not enjoy handling these creatures come feeding time! Keep in mind, some kids may think seeing a snake eat a live creature is cool or intriguing, it can be too much for others to watch.
Another hairless creature that makes great pets are turtles. However, the biggest concern with turtles is that they can transmit salmonella. This can be avoided with supervision and ensuring your children wash their hands with soap and water after handling their turtle.
Turtles tend to have longer life spans, so your turtle could last throughout your child’s life and well into college. You won’t have to worry about dander and fur with turtles either, for obvious reasons!
Unlike snakes, most turtles do not eat live animals! While some will still eat bugs and fish, others will thrive on a diet of fruits and vegetables. If you think having a pet that’s a vegetarian will be easiest, this might be the best pet for kids in your household.
Let’s not forget about lizards. A lizard can be an excellent choice for some of the reasons you saw above. They won’t require much grooming, they are quiet and themselves most of the time – which means they could be perfect for a busy family.
Lizards will likely require live insect feedings so you must decide if that’s something you and your young ones want to take on. Also, while they can also be fun to hold, they can get fed up quickly if handled irresponsibly. Certain lizards also have delicate skin. Be sure your child is being gentle and not making lots of loud noises or sudden movements.
Having Birds for Pets
Birds are an extremely popular type of pet great for kids. Like cats, dogs, and reptiles, choosing a bird might take some time because there are several great ones from which to choose.
A canary, finch, cockatiel, parakeet, or particular parrots could prove to be the best pet for kids if the children are ready to take on a pet that may need more attention – and even cause a bit of a ruckus. These animals can be very smart and very social, but fairly noisy.
They can also tear up your house and may become troublemakers, just like dogs or cats, despite being much smaller. They will probably have frequent droppings, too. However, since they’ll be living in their cage most of the time, you won’t have to worry about cleaning up the whole house when they get messy. Instead, you’ll have a confined area on which to focus (unless you let them have free reign of the house)
You’ll want to take care to make sure your child does not roughly handle these sometimes fragile animals. If their wings are clipped, they will use their beaks and feet to climb. If a child panics, there could be injuries involved.
Speaking of wings, birds are the only animals on our list that fly (if left unclipped). Be extra cautious about teaching your kids to shut the cage door when they’re done socializing with their feathered friend. A bird can run away just as quickly as a dog – if not more easily, since it’s not actually “running” that they’re doing, per se.
The next type of pet on the list might not entirely be at the top of your list, but would be useful to learn about. You might not realize how great rodents can be for children.
Having Rodents for Pets
Yes, rodents. Did we hear an “eek”? Don’t fret just yet, because there are many animals that could indeed make the best pet for kids which may not be what you were picturing. Rats, mice, gerbils, and hamsters are usually unpleasant to unexpectedly see scurrying around your house if you’re not used to them.
But did you know guinea pigs and rabbits are classified as rodents, too? It seems rodents can be cute and cuddly after all. Don’t listen to the stereotypes when it comes to these pets.
While it may take you a little longer to warm up to a rat, you may be surprised to learn that many animals from this category are said to have qualities comparable to cats and dogs. They can be very friendly, smart, and affectionate companions for a child. They might climb up and perch on a shoulder or head, let a child pick them up, and have a delightfully enthusiastic response to petting. These pets are for kids that need more stimulation and would likely prefer more interaction with their pet than for turtles, snakes, and lizards.
They will play, can sometimes learn tricks! Feedings are relatively easy because they can eat some of the same foods your kids are eating – thus can feel like a relatable “buddy,” too.
People often choose to pair these animals up with others of the same kind since they’re such social creatures. Just be sure, as others have learned the hard way, that you are getting multiple of the same gender. Just because your kids might be excited to run up to the habitat one day to see squeaking babies, doesn’t mean any of you are ready for those responsibilities to multiply by 10 (or more).
Now we move onto the category of pets that will need to remain moist their entire lives, but that can nonetheless be nice for beginners.
Having Fish as Pets
Small fish tend to be low maintenance, especially if you opt for something like a betta over a goldfish or exotic fish (however: we don’t recommend exotic as a starter pet). You’ll have to decide if you have the time and patience to teach your kids how to maintain a clean tank and not overfeed them!
Fish can be beautiful and mesmerizing to watch, but the tank should be kept out of the reach of your small children. Curious children have been known to stick their hands in a bowl or overfeed when not being supervised.
Fish tend to die more frequently than many other pets and you’re going to have to be up for explaining this when it happens. A sweet little toilet bowl ceremony could be the child’s first exposure to death. If they grow attached to their fish, coping afterward might be challenging.
Aside from potentially squishing the fish, fish can carry germs. Explicitly speaking, salmonella and other diseases that are common with favorite pets, although transmission is rare). Your children shouldn’t try to touch their swimming, scaley pals.
Once You’ve Decided on the Best Pet for Kids: Caring for Pets
As we learned, there are many different options when trying to decide on the best pet for kids. This guide should start the learning process in knowing what kinds of things you should look for!
Once you’ve made a decision on category, narrowed down a breed, and have brought home your new family member, there are a few factors to consider. It will be crucial to teach your children to be gentle and practice good habits about hand-washing.
You’ll also want to prepare the child for any loud sounds the animal is likely to make, so they’re not as easily frightened. The more you prepare them, the quicker they’ll be to get over any anxieties.
Pets can have plenty of anxieties, too. To keep this to a minimum, (though there will be an inevitable adjustment for you and the pet) make sure to prepare your house. Your home should feel like a safe haven. Home preparation is similar to preparing for a new baby. Pets will be roaming around outside a cage, so there shouldn’t be any choking hazards or chemicals within reach. Every animal will have its sleeping patterns, defecating habits, and beyond. Be sure to have food, water, and a habitat (cage, crate, playpen, tank, bed, etc.) available for them.
This process will mainly be about getting comfortable. If raised and handled the right way, your pet will be a favorite part of your child’s growing up!.
Bringing a pet into your home is often one of the most rewarding experiences you can give your children, so don’t waste any more time not having one! Reach out to us with any questions you might have while deciding what might be the best pet for kids. You should also download our FREE guide to learn more about what to do once you bring your new pet home since this article is merely the tip of the iceberg.