You know the familiar refrain (Heck, you probably even used it yourself back in the day): “But, moooooom! Everyone else has a puppy [kitty] [goldfish] [ferret]!” Or even better, “Dad! Look what followed me home! Can we keep him???” It seems like kids and pets (more often than not) go together like peanut butter and jelly, so adopting a new family member may feel like an easy choice. But, it’s really important to ensure that you don’t enter into pet parenthood with little forethought. You need to take a lot of factors into consideration before you make the leap into being owned by a pet, and the Little Rock veterinarians at Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic can help with some advice.
One of the main things you need to think about when deciding to welcome a pet into your home is your family’s lifestyle. This checklist might be helpful as you go through the pros and cons of adoption:
Thinking through these questions will help you determine what type of pet will fit your family’s dynamic. For example, if the adult(s) in the family work a typical 8-5 job seven days a week, the kids are in school, and also have after-school activities, adopting a puppy might not be the best idea. But, a self-sufficient cat would be perfect!
Of course, when you bring home a new pet, the kids are over the moon! They’re so excited that they’ll promise to do all of the pet-care chores! It’s important to realize, however, that once the elation of having a new family member wears off, Mom or Dad will likely be the ones managing those tasks. Starting their pet-care responsibilities from day one will often ensure that your kids get into good habits with their new friend. When making a chore chart, it’s important to consider their ages when you’re determining appropriate pet care chores.
The folks at Parents magazine advise that kids as young as three can lend a hand by helping Mom or Dad feed their pet. As they get older, responsibilities such as walking the dog or cleaning the litter box every day can be added.
While welcoming a new family member can be an exciting time, it’s also extremely important to make sure your kids understand how to act around pets: They’re in an unfamiliar environment and need to be treated gently for the first few weeks. The experts at KidsHealth.org offer a few recommendations. Teach your kids:
And a couple tips for Mom and Dad to remember:
Adding a new pet to the family can be a rewarding and enriching experience. Just take the time to do a little research and self-evaluation to make sure you and your kids are ready for the responsibility. And have fun!