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Many parents come to fear the moment their precious children ask for a pet. Not only does this bring on the endless begging from your doe-eyed little bundles of joy, but it also brings visions of filthy hamster cages, puppy chewed shoes, and potential vet bills. Even for those of us who adore animals and wish to have a family pet at some point, the decision to get a pet for your young child is never a simple one. Pets can play an endlessly important role in your family structure. Pets instill lessons in responsibility, provide beautiful opportunities for entertainment, and are simply wonderful additions to a household at times. However, the choice of what pet to get and when to get it should be made carefully and as an entire family unit. When considering a first time pet for the young children in your household, consider these three animals are wise and safe choices.

Photo credit: themomcrowd.com
The Right Dog

For many, a family may not feel entirely complete without perpetually hairy furniture and a wagging tail to greet you when you get home. Dogs are a classic choice as the family pet. Of course, dogs are one animal that requires a large amount of care and consideration, making it not necessarily the best choice for very young children. But, if your heart is set on getting a puppy for your youngster, there are a few particular breeds that can be easier to care for than others. Before running out and getting the cutest puppy you can find, you want to evaluate your household structure. Who will be the primary caretaker of the dog? Where will the dog go in the house? What will the dog do throughout the day? These are all things that should be considered. If you evaluate things and find that a dog suits your family well, next you want to find the right breed. Research what breeds have the right energy levels, temperament, and common care needs that will work for you. Larger breed dogs are often considered better choices for young children both because they can put of with the children handling them more easily and because they tend to be friendlier with small kids.

If a dog is too much responsibility for your family and youngsters at this time, there are many other starter pets that can be great fits for first time pet owners.

Photo Credit: sharpmoms.com
The Classic Goldfish

The goldfish is a classic option as a child's first pet. The goldfish requires relatively little maintenance, but is a great way to give your child some responsibility. They will have to feed the fish each day and keep the tank clean regularly. It's important to consider the initial costs of getting a fish. While the fish itself is typically very inexpensive, setting up a nice tank with rocks, plants, and a pump (if needed) can add up more than you might expect. These are all things that have to be maintained carefully and will require adult supervision when caring for during cleaning. It's typically smart to get at least two goldfish so that they can keep each other happy, and you should know that they can live up to 25 years (woah!).

Photo Credit: thepetscentral.com
The Cute Hamster

Hamsters can be a great choice for a child's first pet. For many of us, the hamster was our first pet as children. They are little fluff balls of cuddle—adorable and very easy to care for. Like goldfish, hamsters are very small so they do not take up a lot of space inside your home to take care of. Hamsters can also be very sociable and fun once they get used to your family and being handled. There are, however, a few things that parents should keep in mind before getting a hamster for their youngster. Hamsters are nocturnal. This means that they will likely not be very playful or active during the daytime when your kids will want to play with them. This also means that they will be active and playful at night, which can be somewhat noisy. This is something to keep in mind when you are finding a place keep their cage at bedtime. Also, because hamsters are so small, they are also rather delicate. Very young children may handle them improperly and end up injuring them. It may be wise to get a pet hamster when your children are old enough to understand how to handle an animal carefully. Hamsters have a relatively short lifespan, living up to around two years.

This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email : blauren99@gmail.com  

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