Pets & Kids
by jen mitchell oddi & laura ducharme | It’s a given that your kids will start begging you for a pet at an early age. Prepare yourself for the relentless campaigning, “pretty pleases,” and pinky swears about taking care of the coveted pet. But what age is the right age?
Unfortunately there is no right answer — it depends on the child, the parent(s) and the pet. It’s safe to say that you shouldn’t bring a new dog or cat home with babies and toddlers; a pet is not only a huge time commitment, but it’s a hit to the finances as well.
Kids between the ages of 5 and 10 might be ready for a pet, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that they’re going to be much help in terms of changing the stinky litter box or taking the dog out for a walk!
Negotiations usually end up with the first pet being a hamster, mouse, bird, guinea pig or fish … anything to stop the begging! A lot of people say guinea pigs are a good bet because they’re sociable, cuddly and cheap to care for.
These pets may fill the void for a while, but, within a couple of years, your kids will likely be really rallying to get a cat or dog. If you give in, make sure you choose one that is comfortable around people. If it’s a dog, some ten year olds may be mature enough to help care for a dog, but for the most part, twelve or thirteen is a safer bet. By this age, they’re old enough to walk the dog, scoop the poop and feed them dinner.
Before you give in and become the hero of the family — know that these pets may live upwards of 10 years. Kids move out and move on. Pets stay dependently home for the long haul.
Your child’s first pet is not really theirs — the commitment ultimately lies with you.
What we can say for sure is that pets are often great companions for kids. They’ll almost always refer to their furry family members as their best friend. Once you’ve decided the right time to get a pet, make sure you do your research on which popular pet best fits with your family’s lifestyle. Good luck!
Jen Mitchell Oddi is a Toronto based television producer/director, currently in production on Ask Me Anything and is a pet food blogger (www.mydogsbreakfast.com). Laura Ducharme is the host of Fido & Wine on The Pet Network. This entrepreneur also owns the on-line store “DOGsAGE, Essential Products for Senior Dogs.” (www.dogsage.ca • firstname.lastname@example.org)