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Pets For Kids
Here are 10 Essential Reality Checks for YOU to consider when “others” are considering adding a new pet to your family or home.
So you want a pet or at least your children want a pet, well there is nothing natural about it, the whole idea will sound great… but wait a minute, stop and think…. there are some great positive about it. idea….there are also some essential reality checks that need thinking….a quick read through my checklists below will help you make a more realistic decision.
Remember the old saying “An animal is not just for Christmas”. Someone will have to clear the “pooh” at the end….everything.
Essential Reality Check No. 1 –
The type of Pet
The type of baby animal you can bring into your home will depend on a number of things such as the following:
The age of your children – a two-year-old child probably won’t be able to handle a pet gently and certainly won’t be able to take care of the animal…
How much will the cost of the animal – not only to buy – but for daily care?
What size pet does your child want? – What space will be needed? A hamster does not take up much space, but guinea pigs, ferrets and rats require much larger cages.
How much time do your children and you as a family have to give to animals?
Will your family be safe with pets? Will the pet be safe with your family?
If you have a larger pet such as a dog, cat or goat what effect will it have on your family, friends and neighbors?
How will you take care of your pet during your vacation?
Will your family be able to cope with the eventual death of a pet?
Some animals will sleep most of the day and will be awake at night. Hamsters can be very noisy at night!
If your child wants a dog, you need to look at the dog’s breed, size and exercise.
You already have another pet, what effect will it have on that pet. For example, will your dog get along with a cat or rabbit or bird?
Essential Reality Check No. 2 –
Age of your children
You need to decide on a pet that is suitable for the age of your children.
For example, in most cases, it would not be wise to buy a hamster for a two-year-old child who is still adapting to the world around them and may not know or be able to treat the hamster gently.
You want to give your children some responsibility in the care of an animal. Some children are very responsible and will be able to manage this. Other children, well the sight of a baby animal is too attractive, then who can resist a puppy or kitten or baby hamster?
At first, you may need to help your children, since taking care of a pet is a very responsible job. As a parent or carer, you always need to supervise the care of the animal.
As a parent or carer, you need to decide if your child is old enough to handle and care for a pet. How many times have parents heard the cry “oh, but we promise we’ll make it for walks every day”
Or “we’ll clean mom, we promise.” How will you feel in a year when you will find yourself taking care of animals because the children are busy with friends or away on a school trip or flooded with homework or just tired of being poor.
Essential Reality Check No. 3 –
The real costs of pets for children
Some animals are very good to buy for example hamsters, guinea pigs, goldfish. gerbils, fancy mice, fancy mice and rabbits and even ferrets.
You still need to consider:
Setting up the cage (this can be very expensive when you look at the cage sizes that most animals need) in fact, they need the biggest cage you can manage
The cost of food per week
Vet bills if your pets get sick.
For example, ferrets need an annual injection against canine distemper.
Vacation care – you need to pay for it, of course, if you can’t trust friends and family.
Larger baby animals such as goats and pedigree dogs and cats are much more expensive to buy initially, some costing hundreds of pounds.
You need to consider:
Bed and a cage (if you buy one for your dog or cat)
Harnesses and collars for dogs.
Veterinarian advice (dogs should have annual vet checks)
Vacation care (kennels can be very expensive)
Ongoing veterinary costs if your pets become chronically ill.
Essential Reality Check No. 4 –
The required space
Even small pets for children, such as guinea pigs, fancy rats and ferrets, require a lot of cage space for a happy life. They need the biggest cages you can find room for. These animals also need space to exercise outside the cage.
Cats take up very little space, as do small breeds of dogs.
Dogs need a decent sized yard and walks to keep them well exercised.
Essential Reality Check No. 5 –
Time for your pets
You and the family have time for a pet.
For smaller animals, you need to have them out of the cage and be treated every day for at least 2 hours a day.
Do you have time to clean the animals at least once or twice a week, or even every day?
Some animals definitely need the bathroom corner of their cage cleaned more often to avoid a smelly cage and a pet.
Water bottles and food trays should be cleaned and refilled daily.
Will you be able to walk your dog at least once a day? – depends on the breed some need more!
Are you willing to look after your pets for children for as many years as some may live?
(From 18 months to 2 years for a mouse up to 15 years for a dog)
If you are out at work all day and the kids are at school all day, your pets need and will demand attention when you get home.
Essential Reality Check No. 6 –
Safety of your pets and family
You always need to ensure the safety of your children when spending time with any animal.
Even small animals can bite and leave a wound.
Dogs should not be left unattended with your children because they are unpredictable. Even a faithful dog will bite and even attack a child if it is in pain or fear. It rarely happens – but it does happen.
You will also need to ensure the safety of your pets: Your child is able to handle an animal safely without getting hurt.
Is your pet safe with other pets in the home? – if you have children and a dog…. you will have to make sure that the dog cannot escape because a door is accidentally left open.
If you have a dog, you need to ensure the safety of visitors as you may be sued if your dog bites someone on your property (or even outside your property)
Make sure that when the animals for children have free time outside the cages that:
Other animals cannot be harmed
They can’t chew electrical cords
They cannot fall into toilets or water baths.
They cannot escape through gaps in walls or floors
They cannot go outside unsupervised
Essential Reality Check No. 7 –
Effects on family and neighbors
The whole family must agree if you have purchased animals. Pets can be noisy and messy having an effect on family life.
What effect will a pet like a dog have on the grandmother who suffers from allergies – will this mean she can no longer come to visit?
If you have a dog, it will bark and howl when you leave it for a while and this will annoy your neighbors.
The dog will bark when your neighbors are in their yard.
How do your neighbors take to having your cat in their yard?
You’ll need to keep your dog mess-free to make sure it doesn’t stink – especially in the summer months.
Essential Reality Check No. 8 –
Holidays and pet care for children
If you have pets for children, what will happen to them during your vacation times.
Do you have family or friends who can take care of your pets while you are away.
If not, you have to pay for the care of your pets.
This will be expensive for dogs, cats and larger pets.
Even for small pets, vacation care can be expensive.
Essential Reality Check No. 9 –
Loss of a pet and grief
Some children are really sensitive and will be devastated when their beloved pet eventually dies, or is lost in some way.
This is especially distressing if the animal has died from an accident or illness.
How do you handle this?
Children will need to grieve, grief is a healthy part of a reaction to loss. We can suffer losses every day in a small way like not having something we want, this causes a reaction of loss and part of the healing for this is the pain. If your child or another family member has struggled with pain, look at the following and see if it applies. The grieving process has seven stages through which people move. Your family member can not go through them in order or spend long in someone.
The steps are:
Shock, Denial, Guilt, Anger, Depression Bargaining, Acceptance
Your child may want another pet which is called negotiation and is one of the steps in the grief process.
If your child cannot have another pet, explain the hidden losses that the death of his pet has caused.
It could be a loss of your child’s self-esteem or self-esteem.
They lost their only companion.
Your child has lost the only one who listens to him.
By chatting, try to know how your child feels and help them work through their losses and then work on acceptance by doing some healthy negotiation.
Could your child regain their sense of worth or self-esteem in another way? Maybe to help with a friend, for example.
For some children it can be useful to have a burial service, so they can say goodbye properly.
(My son kept some hair from his beloved dog)
Our children handled the death of their pets really well and went on to have other pets, for other children, although it has more than one effect so you need to decide when or if to replace your pet child
Essential Reality Check No. 10 –
Baby animals are GREAT!
For the most part, animals for children are fun. They are often good company for your children, especially if the children are alone.
Our autistic daughter has changed a lot since we got her guinea pigs to look after. He has gained some imaginative play, we think this is because he talks to his guinea pigs.
However, we have to watch out for them.
Children can learn a lot from taking care of animals for children and from having animals even when they are lost naturally.
Dogs can encourage the family to exercise while walking the dog.
All our children love their pets.
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