Should I Get a Pet when I Have a Toddler?

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When you’ve got a toddler in the house, things can be crazy. Any little change to the situation can also set a toddler off, throwing her into a fit of “terrible two” rage. One of the things you can do to help out your toddler, however, is to make a change by adding a pet to your household. Not only can the right pet be a good friend and member of the family, there is some research that tells us that pets actually help children with things like emotional development.

Picking the right pet

The first thing to consider when getting a pet with a toddler in the house is choosing a safe pet.  Pets that are often not safe for children, especially toddlers, include monkeys, ferrets, chinchillas, hedgehogs, and other rodent pets.  In addition, there are specific risks with reptiles, such as lizards, turtles, and snakes.  These pets can often carry salmonella bacteria, which can be harmful to your children.  If you choose a reptile as a pet, be sure to talk with your vet or your health care provider about the precautions that you should take.

If you are considering getting a dog with a toddler in the house, you should be picky about the breed.  Some breeds are known to be good with children.  Other breeds, such as Dobermans and Dalmatians, tend to be large and often aggressive.  On the other hand, toy breeds such as poodles and Japanese Chins may not always be the best choice for your home, as toddlers can sometimes be rough with pets.  Of course, breed does not always determine personality, so you will want to find out as much as you can about the behavior of your future pet.

Cats, dogs, hamsters, gerbils, birds, and fish all make great pets when you have a toddler in the house.  Again, with the smaller pets, you should be careful as children will often like to handle the pets roughly.

Teaching your child to handle pets correctly

Regardless of what kind of pet you choose, there are some things that you should do when getting a pet with a toddler in the house.  These include:

  • Teach your child how to handle the animal carefully, never teasing, pulling, squeezing, or bothering them while they are eating.
  • Supervise interactions between your toddler and the pet, especially at first.
  • Help your toddler to remember to wash his hands after handling a pet.
  • Keep up on your vet visits and shots.

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This entry was posted in Toddlers.


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