How to Select the Right Kind of Pet for a Child
Browse articles:
Auto Beauty Business Culture Dieting DIY Events Fashion Finance Food Freelancing Gardening Health Hobbies Home Internet Jobs Law Local Media Men's Health Mobile Nutrition Parenting Pets Pregnancy Products Psychology Real Estate Relationships Science Seniors Sports Technology Travel Wellness Women's Health
Browse companies:
Automotive Crafts, Hobbies & Gifts Department Stores Electronics & Wearables Fashion Food & Drink Health & Beauty Home & Garden Online Services & Software Sports & Outdoors Subscription Boxes Toys, Kids & Baby Travel & Events

How to Select the Right Kind of Pet for a Child

How to find a good pet for a child? Is a dog a good pet for a child? Is a cat a good pet for a child? Which is a better pet for a child, a rabbit, guinea pig, or hamster? Pros and cons of some common pets in relationship to being owned by a child. Are fish good kids pets? Are birds good pets for kids? Do lizards and amphibians make good pets for children?

Not all pets are suitable for every home, or every child, if your child has been wanting a pet or you are considering getting a pet for your child, you need to read this. You need to be able to select the right pet not just for your child, but for the family, and you must be able to meet the pet's needs. A pet is not something to get on a whim. As such this article will provide some pros and cons on the most popular pets as well as offer tips on where to acquire such a pet.


Puppies require house training, they often chew things and can be destructive, particularly if not given enough mental stimulation. Some breeds, such as a border collie, are very intelligent and really do best in homes with people who are invested in keeping them entertained most of the day (entertainment to these dogs is more than just a walk in the park). Most children do not have the skill, or time to meet the demands of some dogs (in terms of training, providing mental stimulation, and so forth).

Some dogs shed, others do not but require frequent trips to the groomers for hair cuts and should be brushed every couple of days between hair cuts. All of this is really the parent's responsibility, and should not fall on a young child.

Breed research is vital.  The temperament of the dog must be suited to the owner's lifestyle.  In many cases dogs should be considered as "family pets" rather than owned by a child.


Cats are very common as pets. They require their litter box to be cleaned on a regular basis this could be done by a child but should have parent supervision) but otherwise are fairly easy to care for. One concern with children is that younger kittens are often very claw aggressive and will scratch, if mishandled they may also bite.

Parents may want to get an older cat rather than a kitten due to the issues with clawing in kittens. It is a good idea to make sure the kids understand rules in regards to whether or not the cat can go outside.


Many people get rabbits and do not fully realize their needs. Rabbits should be out of their cages at least 2 hours a day. As pets they should be kept indoors, as rabbits outside often suffer from neglect and conditions such as fly strike. Rabbits can bite but seldom do if handled correctly. One concern is that rabbits generally dislike being picked up and put down and can panic so it requires a more mature handler at this stage. There are many breeds some larger than others, some more fluffy which require more grooming care.

Guinea Pigs

As with rabbits guinea pigs should be taken out for at least two hours a day. They are vocal so children may find them more enjoyable than rabbits. Again they are not likely to bite unless mishandled. Some parents do not like the smell of their cage.


Hamsters have a few problems but they are often the pet of choice for most kids. Hamsters are nocturnal so will be awake at night running on their wheel or chewing on their cage bars. Hamsters sold in stores are usually not hand tame and are prone to bite (males are friendlier). Hamsters have a shorter lifespan than the above pets so this may be an advantage to them.

Lizards or Amphibians

Lizards and amphibians may be good pets for the right child, they have little smell, require little care, but do have specific needs in terms of housing. They often require specific lighting, heating, and water, as such the equipment can be expensive. Many are great for kids that just want to observe their pet with no need to handle it. They are great for kids that have allergies to other pets or bedding materials.


Again fish work well for a child that may have allergies, a lack of time, or no need to “handle” their pet. Different fish species have different needs and kids should be supervised in regards to feeding because over feeding is a common cause of death for fish. Parents must also be in charge of regular tank cleaning.


Although some kids do have birds, they are one of the more difficult pets for beginners. Birds can be very messy and some birds require a lot of attention to meet their mental needs. Some birds do bite, and another concern is that it have a large cage or be given sufficient time out of its cage. On the whole birds can be fairly expensive.

Where to get a Pet?

You might think a pet store is a good place to get a pet, but you might find you can get more honest information in regards to finding the right pet for your child's lifestyle by going to the local animal shelter. Prices will often be lower and some pets come with their own supplies. You should note that no store will sell to, and no shelter will adopt to, a child. You – as the parent, must agree to undertake the care and commitment of owning a pet.

Note - Do not get any pet in order to teach responsibility or compassion, your child should have learned these first!

Additional resources:

Need an answer?
Get insightful answers from community-recommended
in Pets & Family on Knoji.
Would you recommend this author as an expert in Pets & Family?
You have 0 recommendations remaining to grant today.
Comments (4)

i also wanted to raise a nice breed of dog and if i could have the right money i am really planning to buy one, what can you recommend? i live in the philippines and the temperature here is quite high..

Hi Captain.  A short haired dog would be best for you, and try not to get one with a short nose (such as a pug or boxer) these short nosed dogs have more problems wit heat.  Try to pick a breed based on your lifestyle.  A chihuahua could be a nice house pet, but some other breeds, such as the Australian Cattle dog would be okay only if you have a ton of time to spend with  your dog keeping it busy and such.

Ranked #6 in Pets & Family

Good thoughts about each of the different favorite animals for kids. A very important decision and should be considered carefully

good tips thanks