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12 Tips for Choosing a Family-Friendly First Pet


Guest Author, Sandra McAubre



Introducing a pet to your household can provide your kids with a companion that they love and can help them learn about responsibility and compassion as they care for the animal. It’s important for parents to remember, however, that not all pets are created equal when it comes to compatibility with kids. These 12 tips can help you select a first pet that’s suited to living with children.

  1. Consider Your Family Lifestyle – It’s important to take your family’s lifestyle as a whole into consideration when you’re choosing a pet. If the house is empty for most of the day, a puppy that needs to be taken out may not be an ideal choice.
  2. Take the Financial Aspect of Pet Ownership into Account – Any pet will require a financial commitment. After all, food isn’t free. That being said, some pets are more expensive than others. A rescued dog or cat might be a noble and socially responsible choice, but one that comes with preexisting health issues will also bring a slew of vet bills to the table. Think about how much room there is within the family budget, and keep that figure in mind as you consider upkeep costs.
  3. Keep Allergy Issues in Mind – Some pets are more aggravating to allergy sufferers than others, and living with an animal that triggers those allergies can be miserable. For instance, no matter how much your child begs for a kitten, it’s just not a good idea to bring one home if you know that someone in the family has a cat allergy.
  4. Understand Space Constraints – A small, cuddly baby animal might be tempting, but those babies can grow into large, unwieldy pets. An iguana will probably be small when you bring it home, but it will be up to six feet long when it reaches adulthood. A Great Dane puppy might not take up much room, but his fully-grown body will not be an ideal fit in a small apartment.
  5. Realize That Kids are Hands-On Creatures – Your kids will want to handle their new pet, to cuddle him and interact with him. Some animals, like hamsters and iguanas for example, simply do not tolerate a high level of handling well and may be a disappointment to eager kids.
  6. Consider an Animal’s Care Requirements – Every pet will have certain care requirements that are simply non-negotiable. Litter boxes must be cleaned, dogs need to be walked, fish need to be fed and a gerbil’s cage will need to be cleared. If your primary goal for pet ownership is to introduce a level of responsibility for your kids, be sure that the care a particular animal requires isn’t beyond their ability to manage.
  7. Don’t Be Swayed By Cuteness – Just because an animal is cute doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good fit for your family. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re infatuated with an adorable animal, but it may still be the wrong choice for your household. It’s important that you stick to your guns, and that you don’t allow yourself to be won over by a cute pet that simply won’t do well in your home.
  8. Know the Salmonella Risks of Certain Pets – Some reptiles and most turtles present a very real salmonella risk, a cause for concern since kids aren’t known for their dedication to hand washing.
  9. Don’t Choose a Puppy So He and Your Baby Can “Grow Up Together” – The common misconception that a puppy is an ideal choice when you have very small children because they’ll “grow up together” causes many dogs to end up in shelters. A puppy’s size might increase, but he’ll still be an exuberant, energetic puppy for a few years. That untrained puppy will require a serious time commitment in order to introduce proper training, a commodity that new parents simply don’t have much of.
  10. Never Pick an Impulse Pet – Walking into a pet store or perusing local classified ads is a great way to find some kinds of pets, but it also increases your chances of choosing a pet on impulse. It’s important to think the decision through carefully before selecting a pet, something that’s generally not possible when you’re making an impulse adoption.
  11. Be Realistic About Responsibilities – You may have grand notions about your children’s participation in pet care chores, but it’s wise to be realistic about the animal’s care. The adults in the household often end up shouldering the burden of pet care, so be sure that you’re prepared to take on that responsibility if the kids don’t hold up their end of the bargain.
  12. Do Your Homework – The best way to choose a pet that will mesh well with your family is to simply do your research about any type of pet that you’re considering, and to narrow the options down to only those that are likely to be a good fit with the habits of your household.



When they’re carefully chosen and well looked after, a pet can bring joy and laughter to your home. For a successful introduction to pet ownership, however, taking the time to research and choose carefully is essential.



Sandra is a freelance writer & loves writing articles related to pets. She's is a frequent contributor for http://www.hireananny.org/ . Please feel free to get in touch with her at [email protected].


Thank you Sandra for this wonderful article!