Pets and Young Kids

5:33 PM


Taking care of a pet is not easy even for adults.  The responsibility of taking care of another living is not something to be taken lightly as in a game.  We can just imagine what challenges await young children aged from 3 to 5 who decide to take on the responsibility of taking care of a pet.

Recommended Pets for Young Children

When considering buying a pet for young children, there are a lot of possibilities being offered by experts including but not limited to hamster, mouse, specialty rat, gerbil, guinea pig, budgerigar,fish, turtle, rabbit,chicken, cat, dog, and pony.   There are many other varieties of birds and small animals that may fit the bill as loving companions of young children in their pre-school age.

Although the temperament of most animals cannot be the same at all times, most of these suggested animals are small, sociable, entertaining, tame, and gentle.  We would also notice that most of them can be put in cages when needed so as to provide young pet owners reasonable control while they take care of their pets.  The rabbit, chicken, cat, dog, and pony are actually more fit as pets for older children since the responsibility is bigger, not to mention the size of the pet.




How to Determine Readiness of Child to Take Care of Pets

Not because children want their parents to buy them a pet doesn't necessarily mean they are ready.  The general rule is that children who are not yet able to take reasonable care of themselves should wait a while longer.  That said, young children will never be fully ready for the responsibility of pet ownerhips thus parents are expected to lend their full support to their young children.

Children who are considering to get a pet should at least understand the concept of not hurting animals.  Their is great risk in pet ownership for children who are not  yet able to control their excitement as they may either end up hurting their small pets or being hurt by bigger ones.  Constant guidance by parents is still a necessity during this stage.  It is a mistake to leave very young children alone with their pets.




Benefits and Risks of Pet Ownership at a Young Age

The primary benefit of pet ownership for young children is the opportunity to learn first-hand how it is to be responsible for another living thing.  Taking care of the daily needs of pets in food, cleaning, and other necessities provide valuable learning that cannot be obtained from reading books.  Children also learn the value of companionship and nurturing.

Taking care of animals may carry certain health risks  including allergic reactions to animal hair, infections from exposure to animal "poop", and other physical harm such as bites and scratches from animal attack, whether provoked or unprovoked.  There is also a possibility that the responsibility of taking care of the animals gets transferred to parents when the child totally gives up on the idea.  

My Say

 Due to my son's long-standing problem with allergic rhinitis, we never considered getting a dog or cat as a pet.  We opted for lovebirds and goldfishes instead with the rationalization that our children are better off with minimized contact with their pets while still allowing them to feel a sense of responsibilityThe pigeon pictured above with my daughter came to us when my daughter was only about a month old so in a sense they are of the same age.  We got it from my sister-in-law's wedding which was almost eight years ago.

My children have lost several lovebirds and fishes in their attempts to take care of pets.  Twice we came home to toppled cages with no birds in sight and thrice we came home to dead fishes who apparently jumped out from the fish bowl.  We took the pigeon in at their insistence, probably in frustration with their earlier attempts and so we did.  However, because of the common health advisory with respect to the risk of coming in contact with the bird "poop" , the cleaning part became my husband's responsibility.

I wouldn't know if they would have the chance to have bigger pets in the future.  As for now, they have one pigeon to take care of.  It's funny how the pigeon acts like a dog greeting its master whenever my children come home from school.  Apparently, my children's efforts have paid off.

That said, I think children can learn much from taking care of a pet but it is best done when they are ready.

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26 comments

  1. It's good to have pets at home. They are stress reliever. I used to have a pet dog, African Love Birds and Koi fishes at home but I gave the birds to its original owner and fishes to my sister. I couldn't maintain the birds anymore as it was hard on my part cleaning the poop everyday.

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  2. My daughter had a rabbit, an hermit crab and a chick as a pet. I gave the rabbit away, the hermit crab got away and the chick, well it died. I guess she's too young to have a pet.

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  3. Nuts: Taking care of pets is really a big responsibility even for adults.

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  4. Peachkins: A little more time and she might just be ready.

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  5. When I was still a kid, my dad used to have puppies around the house. But I eventually stopped caring for them due to my asthma attacks. Since then, I stopped caring for any pets with fur. I guess, I only started admiring them from a far.. even the turtles and fishes that my siblings took care for throughout the years.

    And it's also true that kids are given that certain kind of responsibility. I guess, I started not to like it since I had to think about feeding and bathing them, which was tasking for me.. hahah! But kudos to your kids for their efforts still. :)

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  6. I think owning pets gives kids a little bit of sense of responsibility since they have to take care of the pets.

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  7. For me as Doctor advice for my eldest daughter, NO PETS ALLOWED. My eldest daughter had asthma, my youngest is okay but she is very concern about her ATE's health. So we don't have pets in our house.

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  8. Baby steps. Children will be kids and they might hurt the pet but we need to guide them.

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  9. Children should not be left alone taking care their pets. Dogs and cats in particular sometimes do 'salbahe' behaviors. Birds are the most welcome pets for kids.

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  10. In the classroom, I like to keep red-eared freshwater turtles as pets because they are cute and resilient. We tried keeping a fighting fish because its fins are very pretty but it died right away because of stress. That's why I would recommend turtles.

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  11. My dad got me a dog when I was still a kid. I don't remember haviing a pet like a bird or anything in an acquarium. Haha!

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  12. we used to have a rabbit, my 12 years old son's pet. He love to have it but don't know how to take care ,all he do is to pet it but when it comes to cleaning the cage and feeding, he can't do it.So we get rid of it,gave away to one of his classmates and all we have now is a dog. I guess my son is not ready yet for a pet.

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  13. My daughter love pets but my little boy is allergic to them ;( But we have an aquarium, and at least they both cannot touch it and just enjoying looking at them :P

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  14. yes true! we also have to remind and guide the children on their responsibility once they own a pet. aside from the joy it brings of owning one, they cannot just turn their back on them when they lost interest :(

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  15. When I was a kid I really wanted to have a pet..but then again, readiness and awareness of this responsibility are needed to get one.

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  16. for me, i would suggest a shi tzu :) i have one for myself and he is really adorable. however, for my future kids, i think im going to give them Chow Chow :) that would be awesome!

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  17. So far, my 18-month-old daughter has 2 dogs at home, not counting the cats birds and turtle at her other home (my place). I do make sure to guide her on how to take good care of them.

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  18. My kids once asked me to buy a pet for them and I told them that having a pet is a responsibility and not for play. A life is on their hands.

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  19. Yes, caring for a pet teaches young kids essential life skills early on. It develops their sense of responsibility.

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  20. children usually imitate how their parents treat animal pets... we should be a role model to them. Yahweh bless.

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  21. Wow, I did not know that there were so many benefits to having your kids own a pet early on. We want to get a dog, but I'm waiting until Lucas is a bit older so he can truly help with taking care of it. :)

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  22. Try keeping fish! The initial investment may be a little significant (especially if it's a big tank which can hold 4-5 different species) but the whole family can chip in. It's also a great home decor idea, having a beautiful fish tank. My mother and I had three large aquariums all the way to when I graduated so fish have always been my childhood and growing up pets :D

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  23. My son has a turtle and love birds. I'm not sure he's ready for a dog just yet. Dogs are pretty high maintenance. You leave them be and they begin to stink in no time.

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  24. I must say, these pets you mentioned here are ideal but still, safety of the young owner should be the first consideration.

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  25. we have a dog and two turtles. My kids love them. With the turtles, I am extra careful with handling as they carry the salmonella virus. Handwashing is a must.

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