When your kid asks for a pet, your natural reaction might be to get them a dog or cat, but that may not be the best pet for their age group. Luckily, the folks at Petfinder have a list of great pets for every age, based on their lifespan and attention requirements.
Image from pocketwiley.
Even if you love animals, you don't want to end up as the default caretaker for your child's pet after the honeymoon is over and you're trying to teach them the importance of responsibility. Here are Petfinder's suggestions.
- Under 3 -- Focus on introducing Baby to your current pets. It's not appropriate to bring in a new pet at this point.
- 3 to 5 -- Guinea pigs are a good choice, as they like to be held, seldom bite and will whistle when excited or happy. Your child can help fill the water bottle or food dish.
- 5 to 10 -- Choose shelf pets like mice, rats or fish. Kids can help clean cages with adult help, though you should always check to ensure that pets have food and water and cages are secured.
- 10 to 13 -- Your child is now ready for the responsibility of a dog, cat or rabbit. Your child can help feed the pet, walk the dog, clean the rabbit cage and clean the cat litter, but you should always check to be sure pets have everything they need. Participation in dog training classes is an excellent learning opportunity for children.
- 14 to 17 -- Your child may have more activities competing for his time and less time to spend with a pet. Birds or aquariums are a good choice. Remember, you will have the pet once they leave to go to college.
You know your child best so you should be the ultimate judge of if they're ready for the responsibility of a dog or cat. Just keep in mind how they have handled other responsibilities and their schedule before you adopt.
Pets as Presents: A Good Idea? [Petfinder]