Which Pets Are the Best Young Children?
16 February, 2017
pets and children

We all know how much joy a pet can bring in our lives.  And, owning a pet can be a very rewarding experience for a child.  Having a pet at home can teach children how to care for an animal and the responsibility that goes with it. There are many pets that are safe for young children, but of course it depends on the actual child and pet.

Below are some pets that may be a good choice for young children:


A well-chosen fish may be the perfect starter pet for a child. Goldfish may seem like the most obvious choice, but there are other pet fish that can live longer when properly cared for and supervised.  And don’t overfeed a goldfish as that can be too hard on the little guy and can lead to an untimely death!


Rabbits are popular among young children as long as there is also adult supervision. Like guinea pigs, rabbits are good for younger kids because they tend to have a very gentle and sociable nature. Rabbits should be spayed or neutered to prevent any aggression (and to prevent uterine cancer in females). This is especially important if you want to keep more than one rabbit in the same space. A rabbit can live from 8 to 12 years, can be litter-trained, and is easy to care for. A healthy diet of grass hay, rabbit pellets, and vegetables can help your rabbit thrive. (see our article on rabbit care)


Birds can be excellent pets. But owning a bird is more demanding than caring for a tortoise or fish. Some birds are highly intelligent. Others are very social. All birds require almost daily attention.  The relatively inexpensive parakeet may be a good choice for kids who haven’t raised birds before. More expensive (and more intelligent) birds like cockatiels and cockatoos also make great pets, but they may need more attention than parakeets or canaries.


Box turtles are a popular choice, with their colorfully patterned shells and winsome good looks, but they are picky eaters. Red-eared sliders are more aerodynamic and aren’t as fussy.   Turtles can live up to forty years!  Turtles require a terrarium or aquarium that’s roomy enough for a few rocks large enough to perch upon, as well as dry areas in which they can burrow and shallow water in which they can rehydrate. They don’t need a lot of exercise.

Hamsters, guinea pigs and gerbils

Smaller mammals, including hamsters, guinea pigs and gerbils, are relatively easy to raise. Most will thrive in a relatively small living space and care is relatively low maintenance.  Except for hamsters, which are solitary, it’s best to obtain young same-sex pairs. Regular, gentle handling promotes friendliness, but bites are possible should rodents feel threatened (especially hamsters). Rats can make excellent pets due to their intelligence, larger size, and enjoyment of human companionship.

Cats and/or kittens

Kittens are childhood favorites. Who can resist the playful nature of a fluffy feline? Cats are very independent and need somewhat less care and attention than dogs, but no less commitment. Like dogs, cats require regular veterinary checkups and immunizations.  A cat is a good choice because it is aloof (and loving too) but a nurturing child might not like this choice.  Girls tend to love cats.  And, of course, if you live in smaller home, a cat takes up less room and doesn’t need to be taken for walks.

Dogs and/or puppies

A cuddly puppy is probably the most popular children’s pet. But choosing the ideal dog is important. Any breed will need a significant commitment of time and effort. Puppies must be housebroken and require daily exercise, regular veterinary checkups and immunizations and cuddling!  Some kid-friendly breeds include:  Labradors, Golden Retrieves, Pugs, Cocker Spaniels.  Of course, any breed works as long as the temperament of your child and the dog match and the commitment from your child.

As with any pet, make sure your child is comfortable with the pet choice and has the know-how to care for the pet properly.   And, of course, that responsibility is up to the you, the pet parent.

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