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Published on September 26, 2013

Five Questions to Ask Before You Bring Home a Pet

Is your family ready to welcome a furry new addition? 

Thinking of adding a pet to your family? A furry friend can be a wonderful addition—but they are also a huge commitment. Ask yourself the following questions before you decide to bring Fido or Kitty home: 

  • Where do we start? Getting a pet is a big decision. The good news is that there are lots of resources out there to guide you toward the best decision for your family. Hit the library for books on different animals and breeds.

    Petfinder also features a wealth of information about breeds and an interactive tool that searches the available pets in your area. Interested in adopting a pet? Your local shelter can give you information about animals available for adoption and will likely ask your entire family to interact with the pet before you make your decision.
  • Are my kids the right age? There is no one ideal age for a child to have a pet, but they should be at least seven years old if you’re counting on them to help with pet-related chores. That age also ensures that your kids are mature enough to gently handle and train your new pet. If you have younger kids, adopting an older animal from the local shelter could be a great solution. Many of them are already comfortable living in a home and won’t be as playful or rough as puppies and kittens.
  • Can everyone in the family help with chores? Pets are a big commitment, so you should be confident that everyone in the family is prepared to help out. School-aged children are typically mature enough to pitch in with day-to-day duties like refilling water dishes, preparing meals and cleaning up litter boxes and yards. Older kids and teens can take on bigger jobs like bathing, grooming and exercise.
  • Which type of pet is best? Little kids in the house? They may do best with a pet that requires little commitment, like a goldfish. These “starter pets” can help teach young children core responsibilities like daily feeding. Is your family always on the go? A dog might be too big a commitment to tackle right now, but cats tend to be more solitary and comfortable with a quieter environment. If you’re set on bringing home a puppy, make sure that someone in the family is home often enough to commit to the training and constant care that young dogs need to thrive.
  • Where do we find the perfect pet? There are plenty of places to find a great new addition to your family, but your local Humane Society or animal shelter is one of the best places to start. There are many dogs and cats that need good, loving homes, and you can interact with them to find the best fit for your family. Check out the American Humane Association’s website to learn if a shelter pet is right for you, then call your local shelter to learn about the adoption process.

Tell us below—how old were your kids when you welcomed a pet into your home?

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