Best Animals for Kids
Do you wish that you had a furry friend
to talk with and to be your playmate? Cats,
dogs or gerbils; companion animals as we call them,
can make everything seem more fun. They can be entertaining
and cuddly and they do the most unexpected things.
But, they require someone to look after them every
day and to never skimp on gentleness and caring.
The whole family will have to work together to feed,
care for, clean up after and exercise an animal
if they are going to stay healthy and happy.
There are a few questions to ask yourself
about your family before you get an animal.
Are we home enough to take care of him or her?
Do my parents want to experience a new friend in
Do we have enough money to feed him, shelter him
and take him to the veterinarian?
Do we have enough room for another family member?
Time, expense and space are all important considerations!
And animals are unique, just like you. Here are
some things to think about to make sure that both
you and your new family member are happy:
How much time do I have for a companion animal?
All companion animals require time to take care
of them. Dogs require a lot of time and exercise
and play. Cats require time and attention, but they
can enjoy time alone, too. It is important to realize
that even rabbits, rats and guinea pigs need at
least an hour of exercise each day. Fish may be
a better companion for busy people, but even a fish
is happier with interactions!
Can I afford a companion animal?
It can cost a lot to take care of an animal, way
more than your allowance! For example, a new puppy
will cost close to $1,000 to care for if you include
food, veterinary care and the many other expenses
involved in having a puppy…and that’s
just for the first year! Older dogs don’t
need as many vaccinations as puppies, but they may
need dental cleanings and medications. Even a hamster
or gerbil must have fresh food, bedding and an annual
veterinary exam. These things can cost more than
$200 per year!
Do I have room for a companion animal?
If you live in a small home or apartment, a Saint
Bernard is probably not the best companion animal
for you! Maybe a smaller companion animal like a
cat or small mammal might work well at your place.
Adopting is a great lesson in compassion and commitment,
but should never be used to teach children responsibility.
A better idea is to make the care of your companion
animal a family bonding experience by caring for
him or her together. Many adults will love to bring
their family together in this way! Adults will need
to take overall responsibility for the animals and
should always supervise animal care to ensure the
necessary jobs are done every single day.
Listed below are some of the common
companion animals you might think are cool!
Proper care of a dog requires a good deal of time
and money. They will do best in a home that has
a steady routine, where people are home on a regular
basis. Dogs need regular exercise and entertainment
to stay happy and healthy. Every dog is special!
Some require long runs with a lot of aerobic exercise,
like chasing balls, while others would prefer slow
walks and a comfortable spot to chew on a nylon
bone. Dogs really need a lot of personal attention
from you, too! All dogs benefit from training to
make sure that they have good manners, just like
you! You didn't just know how to say please and
thank you! So you must have patience and time to
spend with your dog to help him or her learn everything.
That includes things like where to go potty to how
to give a high five! Your dog may also need to be
groomed by a professional, in addition to being
brushed by you. Because every dog is unique, be
sure to decide what kind of personality you want
in a dog. The Wisconsin Humane Society offers a
very special match maker service to help you and
your family choose the right dog personality. Click
here for more information!
Cats are great animals! They love their alone time,
but they also like to hang out with you. Cats can
be wonderful family animals because of their social
nature. It is always best to introduce a new cat
to your family slowly and quietly. Cats need many
things, including exercise, love, food, water and
shelter. Family time with your kitten can be great
fun with toys like cat charmers and lattice balls.
Many people don’t know that there are lots
of cats that like to play catch! Cats should always
be kept indoors…they’ll live twice as
Rabbits are adorable companion animals, but require
special care. Sometimes, being picked up can be
really scary to a rabbit and dropping or squeezing
them can hurt them. It’s best to only have
older children and adults picking up rabbits. Younger
children can add a lot to a rabbit’s life
just by providing the petting! Rabbits like the
top of their head pet the best. Surprisingly, rabbits
love to run, dance, jump and twirl! They like to
play with toys such as cardboard boxes, tubes and
phonebooks! It’s important to give a rabbit
time out of their cage each day for exercise. Did
you know that a bunny’s teeth never stop growing?
They need extra things to chew on and unlimited
Timothy hay to help control the growth of their
teeth and provide them with their primary nutrition!
A cage large enough for a litterbox (rabbits like
to keep their environment tidy) and room for them
to stretch out is a must.
Small rodents such as mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils
and guinea pigs are fairly easy to care for and
are a joy to have as companion animals, especially
for people with small living quarters. If handled
gently and regularly from a young age, these small
rodents will be your best buddy and provide hours
of entertainment. Even these small animals need
exercise every day! Smaller rodents such as hamsters,
gerbils and mice will enjoy exploring your home
in a roll-about ball, which gives them room to roam
but keeps them safe from other companion animals
and getting lost. Guinea pigs and rats are large
enough that they do not need an exercise ball when
they come out to play. Be sure they are always supervised
however, in an escape proof area! Most small animals
are nocturnal and sleep during the day, getting
most active at night. Some rodents will change their
sleep schedule depending on when the family is active.
Just like rabbits, small animals can be seriously
hurt if squeezed or dropped and should not be handled
by small children. Never, ever pick them up by their
tails; that could really hurt them.
Parakeets or Budgies
Parakeets (also know as Budgies) can be a good choice
for a first bird. They are very social, talkative
and spunky companions. Parakeets are colorful and
entertaining to watch. It is very important that
any bird’s cage is always kept clean. They
are delicate creatures who can get sick if left
in an unclean environment. Keeping their food, water
and cage clean at all times is essential. Many birds
can learn to talk and to perch on people's hands
if you work with them patiently. These little birds
can be hurt if squeezed, so be sure to limit the
handling of them to older children and adults only.
Make sure you keep them away from drafty windows
or doors so they don't get a cold!
Did you know that a goldfish can live up to 20 years? That’s a big responsibility, but they don't require a lot of socialization. They get their own exercise and can keep themselves company. If you’ve ever walked by a tank and found a fish following you, it’s obvious that they enjoy interaction, too! Fish need a nice, clean home and food to keep them happy and healthy. There are many different fish to choose from and each kind has their own aquatic environment needs that should be considered. They have a lot of personality and each fish is as unique as you and me! Unfortunately, fish can develop diseases and actually die from overfeeding! As with all animals, it’s important to learn everything you can about fish before you welcome one into your home.
Be sure to make the adoption of any new companion
animal a family decision. You are showing great
responsibility already by researching companion
animals! There are always going to be things that
adults need to be in charge of, like deciding who
is going to help clean the tanks and cages and feed
the animals. You can still be very involved in taking
care of your companion animal! Don’t forget,
whenever you handle an animal, no matter how well
you know him or her, make sure that an adult is