First Pet Fun and Folly

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It may sound counter-intuitive, but having a pet such as a cat or dog can be good for kids’ health. A Finnish study in the Journal of Paediatrics in 2012 followed 397 kids and found that those exposed to dogs and cats at home had fewer ear infections and needed antibiotics less often. Plus, the kids had fewer allergies and respiratory illnesses. Here are some things to consider when getting a pet for your young ones.

Consider Cats for Small Spaces 
Apartment-dwellers should consider a cat rather than a dog for a first pet. Cats are low maintenance compared to dogs, and don’t require walking. They are self-sufficient, clean and highly adaptable to living spaces of all sizes. Consider saving an old mog from life at the animal shelter, or get a kitten. Younger cats will form strong bonds with the kids. Keep kitty completely satisfied and happy with some tasty Iams cat food.

Small Dogs are Big on Personality
Big and floppy dogs of choice for families tend to be Labradors and Golden Retrievers. Although they make fine family pets because of their gentle temperament, there are other options for young kids under five. Teach them how to groom and handle animals by getting a smaller dog. Consider a type of Terrier or King Charles Cavalier Spaniel.

Handle Rabbits with Care 
Gentle and mild-mannered rabbits are certainly enjoyable to caress and hold. However, they aren’t nearly as robust or strong as cats or dogs. Therefore any mishandling by young children can be devastating to these poor little creatures. Rabbits require daily cleaning of the hutch and should be put away in cold weather and at night. So do be aware that they require a lot of work, especially for a busy young family.

Pets as a Teaching Tool
Getting your children accustomed to animals at a young age teaches them lots of valuable life skills. They learn the importance of grooming and cleaning the living spaces of pets (and for themselves). Kids also can develop emotions like empathy, and understand that when they accidentally or knowingly inflict pain on animals, these actions have negative effects.

Teaching your kids to appreciate, respect and love animals is a wonderful value to instil in them. It will surely make them into a better type of human being – and possibly healthier into the bargain!



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