Finding the perfect family pet

Finding the perfect family pet

We’ve all been there, the kids have seen a dog or a cat or a tortoise and suddenly they want one. Bringing any kind of pet into your home is a big commitment, both financially and time wise so it isn’t something to be taken lightly.

However, having a pet actually has many benefits, so here are some of the pros to sharing your home with an animal or two!

  • Pets make you happier – honest! Stroking a pet can release hormones that are crucial to elevating moods, so whether you have a cat, dog, guinea pig or hamster, having a little cuddle will genuinely boost your mood! As an added bonus, a cat’s purr can help healing and encouraging cell reproduction!
  • Pets teach responsibility – children who grow up with an animal or two in their lives are generally more responsible and considerate. Whether they are in charge of goldfish or a hamster or a dog, being given age appropriate tasks will help them learn about understanding the needs of others.
  • Pets get you out of the house – pets are a great way to get you active and outside. Dogs will need walks, rabbits will need exercising, horses will need riding – whatever the pet, it will keep you active.
  • Pets help build confidence – having a pet helps children develop non verbal communication, which in turn will help make them more confidence. By learning skills like picking up on facial cues or body language from an animal, your child will be much more confident in social situations as they get older.
  • Pets are great for emotional support – if you have a particularly shy child or a child with mental health issues like depression or anxiety or children on the autism spectrum or similar conditions having an animal is great for emotional support, even those that aren’t specially trained. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, even parrots are great at providing unconditional love and validation which can be essential to helping your kids. Of course, there are specially trained service animals that can help look after your child particularly if they have seizures or panic attacks.

So now you know the pros of having a pet. If you’re starting to lean towards the idea of getting a furry, fluffy or scaly friend for your family, here are some tips for choosing the perfect family pet.

  • Think about your financial situation and how much time you have to spare. All animals require attention and will cost money, even if you adopt, you will need to pay for vet check ups and food and general upkeep, but some will be more expensive than others and some will require more time and energy than others. If you work long hours, a dog that requires lots of walks is not a good fit, but a cat that is more independent might work better. Similarly, an animal like a hamster that sleeps for most of the day while you’re at work and they’re a school would be a good option and apart from the initial cost of buying it a home, are relatively low maintenance in comparison. Speak to friends and family members who have pets or contact a local rescue and see what animals would best suit you and your lifestyle.
  • Before getting a pet, try visiting friends and family members with animals and see how your children interact with them. This is a good way to spot if your kids display any allergies to fur and will help you narrow down a list of potential pets. Or you could always offer to feed a neighbour’s cat while they’re away or pet sit for someone. Alternatively, you could volunteer to walk dogs for a local rescue centre or for a friend to see how you get on.
  • Once you’ve decided that you are going to get a pet and have a rough idea of what animal would best suit your family, it is important to prepare everyone for the changes that come with welcoming a pet into the home. Everyone needs to be in agreement that they are all jointly responsible for taking care of its needs, including washing up bowls, cleaning out pens and cages and feeding them on time.

Now what?
Well if you’ve decided on a pet make sure to do your research on what that animal will need to feel comfortable in your home and be sure to source them from a reputable breeder or adopt from a local rescue centre. Staff at rescue centres will know which pets have the personalities that will best suit the dynamic of your family and can recommend the best ways to integrate them into your lives.

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