Thinking about saying yes to getting your tween or teen a pet? Older children can care for all kinds of pets with unique features and needs. Whichever pet they set their heart on, there are many important questions to consider before choosing one. Do you want:
- A pet for companionship or practical reasons?
- Indoor or outdoor pet?
- To cuddle it?
- A pet that stays in its habitat or roams around?
Do you live in a house or an apartment? Do you own or rent? How big is your yard, and is it fenced? Does your child travel overnight much? Does anyone living in the home have fears about or allergies to any animal? How much can you afford to spend monthly on pet supplies and pet care? Here are tips about seven pets you may want to consider.
1-2. Dogs, Cats
Animal shelters have plenty for adoption. Both make great companions but there are risks of injury from dog bites and cat scratches. Both need periodic immunizations, regular worming and ongoing flea prevention. Cats get exercise walking around the house, but dogs need to walk, run and play every day. There will be poop to scoop daily for either, but cuddling and companionship are worth it.
Parrots are lively, playful, colorful and costly. They bite hard. They mimic easily, can quickly learn to talk, and are noisy. Parrots need lots of space and like coming out of their cages, but will peck and ruin wood furnishings. They eat seeds, fresh produce and nuts, often discarding shells outside the cage.
4-5. Horses, Pygmy Goats
These outdoor animals need plenty of room and shelter from the elements. Some animal shelters may have horses for adoption under $2,000. A horse requires a lot of care every day without exception. If you do not have space for a horse, you can board them at nearby stables or small farms. Pygmy goats are miniature creatures content to graze grass and drink water. You can pet and thank them for keeping the orchard mowed.
These fantastic aquatic creatures are fragile, but once you get their marine ecosystem set up, they are about as easy to care for as other fish. Seahorses eat about six to eight frozen Mysis shrimp per day and grow to five to eight inches tall. They need easy-to-grasp hitching structures like kelp or faux coral. Instead of getting seahorses caught in the wild, getting captive-bred seahorses does not contribute to their depletion.
Chinchillas can live 20 years. They eat pellets from the pet store, drink fresh water and need a solid-bottomed, wire cage. These soft, furry, fragile creatures can be gently cuddled, but are probably best for children over ten years old.
Having pets improves overall health and reduces stress. They provide comfort through times of grief and trauma. Caring for them builds character, trust and confidence. In the end, having pets teaches us about the life cycle and treasuring those we love. No matter the age when you decide to get one, considering personal lifestyles and resources are important parts of choosing great pets for older children.