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Thinking about adding a pet to your family? Here are some things to consider and tips for a smooth transition from the experts regarding choosing the right pet (at the right time).

  • Timing:
    • Children are generally developmentally ready for a pet around the age of 5-6 years
      • This is a great opportunity to give a child some age-appropriate responsibilities relating to the care of their pet
        • Brushing them, feeding them, helping with walking, etc.
    • Younger children may not understand the difference between a toy for them and a toy for their pet and can inadvertently put themselves in harm’s way
  • Preparing:
    • Visit your local library to check out children’s books on caring for a pet
    • Do your research on what type of pet your family would like to welcome
      • Try to make arrangements for everyone in the family to spend time with that type of pet in advance to make sure no one has any allergies
  • Things to consider:
    • If you’re considering a dog, be sure to select a breed that is typically good-natured and get along well with children
    • Other great, low maintenance pet options for a child include:
      • Fish
      • Guinea pigs or hamsters
      • Turtles
    • Pets often have the potential to bring new/different germs and diseases along with them
      • Be sure to encourage regular hand hygiene!

Welcoming a new pet to the family can be very exciting, but requires some thought and preparation. As always, if you have questions or concerns regarding adding a new pet to the family, please contact your pediatrician. Feel free to check out this link from the American Academy of Pediatrics:


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