Should You Buy Your Kids a Pet? The Pros and Cons Discussed

Child with pet

Pets are adorable, cute, fuzzy balls of fun, so it’s no wonder kids absolutely love them. And, if your little one hasn’t already asked you for a pet, you can probably count on the question popping up in the near future.

But, while a pet can seem like a great idea at the time, there are a few things that you need to consider before rushing out to your nearest shelter or pet shop. Take a look at the following pros and cons and then consider if a pet is right for your child at the moment, or if you should stick to animal toys for a while longer.

cat

The Pros of Having a Pet

1. Companionship

Some animals (dogs in particular) are absolutely fantastic friends. They’re always ready to play, and they can dish out mountains of unyielding love. This makes them excellent companions, especially if you have an only child. With a pet, you know that your child has a living, loving creature around to keep him or her from getting lonely, and pets have been shown to improve social skills and empathy in kids. This can be very important when it comes to raising a child that doesn’t shy away from social situations as a result of too much time alone.

2. Exercise

With games consoles and mobile devices having taken over from swing sets and footballs for a lot of kids, a lack of fitness is becoming a problem in the modern age. But, pets present a beautiful solution to this problem. This is because they need walks. So, by taking them out every day, your kids get some exercise and fresh air without even realising it.

3. Psychological health

Pets are great for mental wellbeing. Those struggling with depression or anxiety often find that having to walk and groom a dog, for example, helps them focus their thoughts and relax. Furthermore, kids battling with ADHD find the routine of caring for a dog to be good for concentration, and the energy they spend playing with pets helps calm them down in the evenings.

Family with cat

4. Improving an animal’s life

While pets offer you and your kids a lot of benefits, think also of the benefits that you offer a pet – specifically a shelter pet. These animals are sometimes well-trained, and are often well-behaved. Many people who adopt pets from shelters talk of how appreciative those pets are to have a safe, happy home, which makes them very affectionate. Plus, if you adopt a pet instead of buying one, you help make room in shelters that are already struggling with space.

Here are 10 benefits of adopting a pet as opposed to buying one.

5. Responsibility

Pets require maintenance, though some more than others. But whether it is changing the water in a fish bowl once a week or feeding, grooming, and cleaning up after a dog, there is always a degree of responsibility that comes with owning a pet. This can be an important lesson for your kids, especially if they are reaching an age where they need to start developing a sense of accountability. Being responsible for another life means that you can’t only think about yourself anymore.

The Cons of Having a Pet

1. Mess

If you have a kid, you know all about mess, and the last thing you might want is to add to the mess in your home. Dogs bring shed hair, mud, unsavoury accidents, and the like, while cats can claw your furniture to ribbons, ‘mark their territory’ on your bed or carpet, and bring in various types of ‘prey’ as presents for you. Caged animals like rodents and birds can’t make such a big mess, but they bring a definite odour to your home. So, consider the mess factor if you’re thinking about getting your child a pet.

bulldog

2. Allergies

Of course, if you’re thinking about pets, you have to think about allergies as well. With a large amount of people being allergic to pets – cats in particular – you would be well advised to find out if you or your kids are allergic to animals. The best way to do this would be to spend a lot of time with animals, maybe by visiting a friend with pets or perhaps volunteering at a shelter.

And, while some people do grow out of their allergies, those same allergies can return out of the blue. So, it might not be a good idea to gamble on the idea of ‘getting used to your pets’.

3. Cost

Even if you adopt a pet, there are still a lot of costs involved. You have to consider the various inoculations that are necessary when getting a pet, as well as vets’ bills. Even if your pet never has any accidents or major illnesses (which can prove exceptionally costly), you still have the cost of check-ups and small issues to think about.

In addition, dogs and cats need pet blankets, beds, toys, collars, grooming supplies, etc. Fish ideally need tanks with filtration systems, and rodents and snakes need tanks or cages, all of which are additional costs.

4. Safety

A puppy and a child make a perfect match that is almost too cute for words. But, there are some combinations of animals and owners that are less ideal. Dangerous snakes and arachnids are, of course, not a great idea for small children. Even some breeds of dogs are not advisable as they can be vicious or territorial. So, do some research on the compatibility of your intended pet and your child before bringing an animal into your home.

Here are some tips on choosing the right pet for your child.

5. Responsibility

We listed responsibility as a pro, but it can also be a con. This is because some children just aren’t ready to look after an animal, and negligence is just no good when it comes to pets. Remember, if your child fails to care for your pet, the responsibility becomes yours, which can eat into your free time considerably. So, be sure that your child is ready to commit to looking after a pet before bringing one home.

Sleeping baby with a dog

Is a Pet Right for Your Child?

As with so many things in life, there are various downsides to having pets. But, you need to balance these against the joy that a pet will bring to your child, and your home. If the pros outweigh the cons, then all you need to do is decide on what type of pet will be best for your child, and try to talk your little one out of naming it something silly. (Though, silly names can be fun, too!)

Love,

The CT Team x

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