Choosing a Pet
Things to know before choosing a pet
With the arrival of a baby, for some parents, the idea of having even an animal to care for is unthinkable. Yet the choice of hosting it, logically considered, is very advantageous, because it puts the young in conditions to develop and stimulate some emotional and affective parts positive for their growth.
If you are considering adopting a pet for yourself and your young puppies or you already have one, there are just a few recommendations (Source: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, 6th Edition: Birth to Age 5, American Academy of Pediatrics – 2014) from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to keep in mind.
Which animals are best suited
The choice of the animal to live with in the presence of small humans is fundamental. First of all, it is advisable to look for one with an innate disposition of calmness. The commitment to their management must be within the reach of mothers, who already have a lot to do. In the first months of the baby’s life, the mother must not feel overly busy, otherwise she will soon tire and the burden of caring for the new family member will unfortunately become an extra task to manage.
And in the economy of parenthood we must be careful to evaluate the time we have available during the day, without taking anything away from the children. Surely, the most “restful” animal is the classic goldfish, a beautiful aquarium of small fish that swim and do not disturb anyone, eat every two days and the change of water is not a tiring task.
Turtles are also not particularly demanding: a suitable tray and food is sufficient. For cleaning, the replacement of the gravel is a little bit of work. With these animals the tactile contact, which could certainly increase the pleasure and joy of the child in owning and managing the new companion, is almost completely non-existent, but the pleasure of the sight will be satisfied.
Dogs and Cats
Without a shadow of a doubt, man’s best friends, dogs, and even cats, give much more satisfaction and the pleasure of their company is truly rewarding. If the choice will fall on a dog, it is important to remember that if they are one or two years old, they are the most reliable. They are calmer than a wild puppy who, playing with his natural exuberance, could inadvertently hurt your child or cause trouble at home.
Adult dogs, on the other hand, may suffer from jealousy towards their young and have manifestations of aggression towards them. Size and breed are therefore two important elements to consider when choosing a dog. It also depends on the size of the house you live in and how other family members feel about it.
Golden retrivers and boxers are very sweet dog breeds and could be the best choice. Think that these dogs are used for pet therapy with the sick, autistic children, depressed people and the elderly. They serve the function of stimulating those personality blocks as often human beings fail to do.
Communication with these animals is direct, in a sense authentic, without mediation, which is why it is important to ensure that children can interact with animals, which are often able to recognize with great enthusiasm as true “friends”.
Now let’s come to the pet par excellence: the cat. Who, more than this wonderful feline, can define himself as domestic? The cat is the king of the house and is certainly less demanding than the dog. It does not need to be walked on the street or in the gardens.
It only needs clean litter, food, water and lots of pampering, which children will certainly enjoy. Caution should also be used with the cat to avoid that our young find themselves scratched somewhere on the nose in no time at all. The feline shot is notorious, just an insulting gesture and the kitten, by instinct, scratches. Don’t worry, just know how to do it.
Even cats like dogs are man’s friends, even if they love doing their own thing more. They love sleeping and being pampered. What’s better for a child?
Of course, it is recommended as for dogs, not to use the kitty as a toy and not to be too close to the face, even just to play, as we have said, the kitty could stretch a little too much the paw.
However, whatever the animal you choose, it will always be an enrichment for the child and the reward in affection and dedication of his new friend will always be extraordinary.
How to behave when you have a pet
Here are some rules to follow to avoid trouble with our four-legged friends:
- Never leave a child alone with an animal, even if it is your own, and think you know it well enough to ensure you can rest easy.
- Make sure that your pet is always under your control at all times and that your children do not disturb it when it sleeps or eats.
- Teach your children how to greet a dog in a prudent and wise way: the child must stay still while the dog smells it; then he can slowly offer his hand to caress him, only after making him smell it.
- Teach your children to avoid contact with all wild or stray animals, either out of prudence towards an unknown temperament, or because of the diseases it could bring.
What to teach children about animals
It is important to make children understand how to respect and treat their animals and animals in general. They don’t have to think about dealing with one of their stuffed animals. Therefore, it is forbidden to stick to their tail or to their ears, as they would do with their favourite teddy bear (: Teach them to respect the animals, to love and care for them, the reward will be enormous, because the animals know how to give a lot and know how to return the affection received with all the interests.
Is your child ready for a pet?
When you choose to take a pet, always have in mind the age of your child. Some animals, such as dogs or cats, require daily attention; they need to be fed, cared for and cleaned. Others, such as fish, turtles, birds, guinea pigs, and hamsters, require minimal care and can be a good choice for a younger child.
The hairs of some animals can cause allergic symptoms.
If your child has eczema, hay fever, asthma or your family has a strong history of allergic disorders, bringing a pet into the home will not be a good idea. Consult with your paediatrician and a local veterinarian for advice is always the best choice.
All reptiles, for example, can carry and transmit salmonella bacteria which, as you know, can cause severe diarrhea. However, until the child adopts the recommended hygiene practices, such as washing hands after playing with a pet and before eating, it should be safe.
With children whose immune systems are compromised, however, you need to be particularly careful, and in general you should avoid most pets.