Bringing a Pet Into the Family

Choosing a family pet is very exciting! Whether you are ready for something fuzzy or fishy, there are some key points to keep in mind.
*Parenting-our-kids.com has this to say about bringing a pet into your family: “The best pets for kids will be the pet that fits into your lifestyle the best without adding unnecessary stress to mum and dad.” Here are some other things to consider.
  • Are there any health issues like allergies in your family?
  • Is your child very young?
  • Do you have a lot of space, or do you have limited room in your home?
  • What kinds of care and maintenance products can you afford for an animal?
  • What kind of climate do you live in?
  • Do you have neighbors that can help take care of a pet for you if your family goes away on vacation?
  • Does your family have an active or sedentary lifestyle?
  • What kind of time do you have daily to devote to a pet?
  • How much will you have to do, and how much will your child have to do in order to take care of your pet?
Once you have an understanding of these things, you can consider a number of options for you and your family!

Critters to Consider Avoiding or Delegating to Older Kids:
Hamsters and Gerbils – mostly nocturnal (night dwellers), these cute fuzzies can be inclined to bite when woken up in the daytime.
Iguanas and Box Turtles – * “Because reptiles naturally carry salmonella bacteria, which can cause illness in humans, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends reptiles not be kept in households with children under 5, pregnant women or people with compromised immune systems.” On top of this, these creatures can grow very quickly, need an artificial heat source, and don’t generally like to be played with.
Rabbits – Although cute and fluffy, rabbits can be prone to chewing, biting and scratching. They may also be startled easily by rambunctious kids.

More Appropriate Animals to Consider Adopting at Any Age:
Rats – Much cleaner than other rodents, rats love to be handled, are smart, relatively easy to care for. They form great bonds with their people.
Guinea Pigs – These critters love to be handled are very friendly. They are easy to tame and are inexpensive to house and care for.
Cats and Dogs – Require the most care and attention, but when the right breed is introduced into a family, the right cat or dog can be a long-term friend. Caveat – moms and dads may end up taking care of these furry four-footers more so than the kids. These time and money intensive pets require daily upkeep, but provide lasting joy.
Ant Farms – Although not a “pet”, per se, ants are non-allergenic, easy to care for, and provide hours of interesting tunneling entertainment. Watch them work!
Goldfish – Great for kids with allergies, this is often a kid’s first pet. They need no supervision and are super easy to feed and maintain.
As **Parenthood.com puts it best, though, “Although some children, especially older children, may be responsible enough to care for their pet, it is always the parent’s responsibility to ensure the animal is receiving the care it requires. Selecting the right small animal pet will increase the pleasure of pet ownership for children and parents alike.”
Do your research and remember that each animal comes with its own challenges. Consult with your family doctor if you have allergy concerns. Most importantly – have fun!

Guinea Pigs make fun and fuzzy pets.

SOURCES:
1) http://www.parents.com/parenting/pets/kids/the-best-pet-for-your-child/
2) **http://www.parenthood.com/article-topics/the_good_the_bad_and_the_scaly_choosing_small_pets_for_kids.html
3) *http://www.parenting-our-kids.com/best-pets-for-kids.html
4) Photo: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Peru_Guinea_Pigs.jpg