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Children often start begging for a cat or dog at a very young age. Every one of the please includes the promise to take care of the animal, walk it, feed it, and clean up after it.


However, as adults we know that our children may quickly lose interest in the animal and the adults in the household will be left to pick up the slack. You may worry your child isn’t mature enough for a pet, or won’t treat it well. At our pet clinic, we often see frustrated parents in this situation.


How do you know if your child is ready for a pet? Here are some signs to look for.


Does Your Child Understand the Animal?

What kind of animals is your youngster asking for? Of course, requests for a shark or unicorn can be dismissed out of hand. But if they are asking for a dog or a cat, do they know what they’re talking about?


One activity that can be helpful is requiring your child to research the animal before you consider getting one. This means not just looking at different breeds of dogs, but understanding what it means to have a dog at home and what kind of care is needed.


It breaks our heart at the pet clinic to see a dog or cat put in an animal shelter because a child didn’t realize what they were getting into. Avoid that tragedy by making them do research in advance.


Do the Adults in the Home Want a Pet?

How do you and other adults in the home feel about having a dog or a cat? If you’re excited about it, you might be willing to take a bigger risk with your youngster’s attention span. After all, if you don’t mind caring for the animal, it’s OK if your child loses interest.


If other adults in the home don’t want an animal, on the other hand, and it will be solely your child’s responsibility, you may want to look for more maturity. At our pet clinic, we understand both situations.


How Does Your Kid Behave Around Other Animals?

Does your tyke treat other dogs and animals with respect, or do they run and scream when they see one? Does your youngster try to pull fur, grab tails, or inappropriately hug the dog (too tight or around the neck?)


If so, it’s not yet time for your family to have a dog. However, if your kid is respectful to other dogs, they might be ready. If they ask kindly before petting an animal, show restrain around other pets, and in general act maturely, they may be ready to treat their own animal well also.


How Busy is Your Child?

If your youngster is already up to their ears is school and extra-curricular activities, it may not be a good time to get a dog or cat. Pets need a lot of attention and care, and a family that is always on the run may not be ready to provide that level of focus.


You also probably don’t want to add a pet if you’re expecting another child. Having a growing family is already a huge commitment, and adding a dog or cat to the mix can be overwhelming.


On the other hand, if your child is willing to let go of some activities in order to spend time with a pet, or they aren’t overly busy and are conscientious about doing their normal chore and helping around the house, they may be ready for a new furry friend.


Bring Your New Pet to the Pet Clinic!

No matter what the breeder, shelter, or pet store told you, your new furry friend needs to visit a pet clinic shortly after you get them. We can do a wellness exam and let you know if there are any concerns you should be aware of.


We can also treat for any conditions we come across, and give you information that will help your child care for the new pet better.


At our Little Rock pet clinic, we love to see youngsters learning responsibility through caring for a pet. If they’re ready, we’re here to provide the health care your new family member needs. Contact us today to make an appointment.