8 Tips on Getting a Pet

Choosing a pet and preparing your family for the new member.

4 Ways to Choose a Pet

Manners & Responsibility: Raising Responsible Pet Owners
Manners & Responsibility: Raising Responsible Pet Owners

Bringing home your child's first pet can be an exciting experience for the whole family. But how do you ensure that your child and your new pet will have a good relationship? Here are some tips on selecting and preparing for your new family member.

1. Keep your child's developmental stage in mind. If this is going to be his pet -- and he agrees to care for it -- choose an animal whose needs can be met by your child. Dogs and cats require daily attention. Fish, turtles, birds, guinea pigs, and hamsters demand minimal care.

2. Consider an animal's temperament. An easygoing pet is usually the best match for children, and a pet's breed can often give a clue to its disposition. Some breeds can have unpredictable temperaments, so research the breed before bringing your pet home. If adopting a dog, consider a retriever or beagle. If adopting a cat, consider American Shorthair, Burmese, and Persian breeds.

3. Take your family's allergies into consideration. Some people are allergic to the skin, hairs, or feathers of some animals. If your child has eczema, hay fever, or asthma, or your family has a strong history of allergic reactions, you should take these factors into consideration when choosing a pet. Ask your pediatrician or a local veterinarian for advice.

4. Buy pets only from reputable breeders and shelters. Almost every type of pet is a potential source of disease that can infect your child. But buying a pet from a reputable breeder or shelter reduces the risk of purchasing an ill or diseased animal and endangering your child and yourself.

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