Before you adopt a dog or cat, it’s important to ensure your child is ready. You want to be confident you’re creating a safe environment for everyone involved, so consult the following animal care guide before making a decision.
What to Consider Before Adopting a Pet for Your Child
First, consider your child’s maturity level. Children aged 3 and younger often don’t understand the physical and emotional effects they have on a pet. They may handle the animal too aggressively or invade a pet’s personal space.
Larger pets can also unintentionally cause problems with smaller children. They may accidentally knock kids down or play too roughly.
Around age 6 is when children can commit to raising a pet rather than simply playing with them. They’ll better understand an animal’s emotional needs, including when to give attention and when to respect boundaries. Though your child won’t be able to fully manage the pet on their own, they’ll be more capable of handling some of the responsibilities of animal care.
Which Pet Is Right
If your child is under 6 years old, choose a dog over 2 years old. The dog will better control their energy and be large enough to avoid injury from a small child. They’re also less likely to gnaw like a puppy does as their teeth develop, and they’ll require less attention throughout the day. Avoid small breeds like chihuahuas; instead, choose large, tolerant dogs like Golden Retrievers or Labs.
Likewise, adopt cats over 2 to 3 years old. They’re less fragile, won’t be as skittish, and their claws and tails are often less sharp than a kitten’s.
Pet Care Practices
When you adopt a pet, you’ll need to supervise your children with the animal and handle feeding, playtime, and bathroom duties. As your child ages, you can begin assigning chores. Start simple by having your child fill the food and water bowls. Encourage them to accompany you on walks and play with the pet in the backyard. Let them pick out pet toys and attend animal care checkups at the veterinary office.
If you’ve recently added a pet to your family, turn to Waipahu Waikele Pet Hospital for their animal care needs. This Hawaii veterinary hospital provides general, preventive, and emergency care services. They offer boarding services for when you’re away and convenient hours to ensure your pet always has the care they require. Call (808) 671-7387 to schedule an exam, and visit their website to learn more about their pet services. You can also connect on Facebook for more pet health tips.