Child is kissing a catLike Timmy and his sweet, clever, and dependable Lassie, most kids want a pet to love and care for. Not only will the desired pet be a warm companion at bedtime or an exciting play partner, but may even save the day with lightning-fast reflexes one day… Your imaginative, wishful-thinking youngster is spot-on regarding most of that, but the family pet requires much more than adventurous fun and good times.

Integrating kids and pet care is a valuable, meaningful experience; provided both parties understand their roles. Help your child understand not only the benefits of pet ownership, but what is required to responsibly care for a pet, with our following guidelines.

Pet Ownership 101

Beyond simply wanting a pet, your child needs to understand what it takes to truly take care of a pet. In the very beginning, pet ownership requires substantial time and money. For starters, there’s the adoption fee, kennel or crate costs, food and bedding, toys, and other supportive items. Also, depending on where your new pet comes from, there could be costs associated with spaying/neutering, vaccinations, microchipping, and parasite preventatives.

The start-up costs can be a little daunting even for adults. But, a child who is ready and willing to handle these challenges (alongside you and, of course, your checkbook) can learn an enormous life lesson: responsibility.

Pet care “chores”, such as feeding, bathing, brushing, playing or walking, and cleaning the litter box or backyard area (among many others) will teach your child about the ongoing needs of the family pet. This builds trust and compassion. Likewise, allowing and encouraging your child to take an active role in the family pet’s care can extend to participation at wellness visits, training, and grooming sessions, thus teaching your kiddo about the care your pet needs from others, too.

What’s more, your direct involvement, supervision, example and support will contribute to your child’s lifelong love and affection of animals, and give you both an experience to remember for years to come.

The Kids and Pet Care Balance

Your young child may have dreams of adopting a baby animal to take care of, but this doesn’t always meet everyone’s expectations. Unless you have experience raising young puppies or kittens, we suggest opting to adopt an adult pet or older puppy/kitten, instead. Adult pets prove to be more tolerant of constant noise, boisterous energy, unpredictable movement, and may even know some commands already.

Introduce your child to the idea that some of the best pets come from animal shelters or rescues. You could even set aside time to volunteer with your child in order to give him or her the full picture of a pet’s needs and expose your child to shelter animals. Adoptable pets go through specific assessments in order to rate his or her ability to live with children, which is key to a family pet’s success and good to know upfront.

Moving Forward

Choosing a family pet is a wonderful experience once everyone is on the same page. A parent’s time, pocket book, and commitment should be on par with their child’s enthusiasm and willingness to be a good pet care provider.

Most importantly, your pet’s survival should not hinge solely on your child, nor should your child’s safety be compromised. Teach them how to use soft touches on and around your pet and, if needed, keep a quiet area for your pet to retreat to when volume and energy peaks. Over time, your child’s maturity and levels of responsibility will grow and can include all the wonderful facets of pet care.

Paws and Hearts

Your child may have read scores of books detailing the adventures of certain animal heroes and, as a result, believes that his or her buddy is out there waiting to be adopted. If you are wondering how to integrate kids and pet care, you are definitely not alone. It can be done and in such a way that everyone benefits. Please let us know how we can help you and your family through this process, or click here to make your new pet’s appointment.