“Can We Keep Him?” What to do When the Kids Want a Family Pet

Image courtesy of MandaJuice

When our daughter brought up the subject of getting a pet for the 100th time, our response was, “The mean landlord won’t let you have one!” Neither cats nor dogs were allowed in our apartment complex, but we assured her that someday when we moved into our own home she could choose the pet of her dreams.

As a parent, you may have plenty of reasons for not wanting to bring a pet into the home. But for every reason you have, a convincing counter-argument exists

Cost: If you’re worried about the cost of a new pet, consider rescue organizations that offer pets for adoption for low fees. Rescue animals are up-to-date on shots and veterinary care, which can save you additional money.

Allergies: Even if someone in your family is allergic to dogs or cats, some breeds are hypoallergenic. Or consider a turtle or fish, which generally don’t aggravate allergies.

Lease restrictions: Many rental units will allow caged or indoor pets. Dogs and cats may be welcome with an additional fee.

Time constraints: Some pets, like hermit crabs or hamsters, are low-maintenance and don’t require a lot of attention to survive.

For most parents, owning a pet comes down to two issues: money and time. But even those hurdles are easier to jump than you may think.

The Pet Budget

Adopting from the shelter or a private rescue group is the least expensive way to get a pet. Rescue animals have been screened for disease and temperament, have been spayed or neutered and are current on vaccinations. When you purchase an animal from a breeder, those extra expenses are yours to bear.

An recent article (regarding pet care) from Speedy Cash recommends that your pet gets all the preventative health care your vet recommends, including the best food you can afford. Just as with humans, animals with a poor diet are more likely to get sick and rack up costly health care bills. Skimping on vaccinations and check-ups may seem like a good way to save a few dollars, but a $20 vaccine costs far less than the thousands of dollars it can cause to treat a disease, not to mention the cost of your pet’s pain and suffering.

Finding the Time

If your family is too busy to properly care for a dog, don’t give up on pet guardianship altogether – just don’t get a dog! Find a pet that truly fits into your family’s schedule. Pets like fish, reptiles and rodents that don’t require daily walks, trips to the groomer or obedience training can still give your kids the enjoyment of caring for an animal without burdening an already crowded schedule. Cats are another option for a busy family. Though they’re independent and don’t require a lot of hands-on care, some breeds bond closely with their human companions and enjoy close interaction.

You may have many reasons to say no to a pet, but you have many reasons to say yes, too. Pet ownership teaches children responsibility and compassion. Pets can ease depression and loneliness, reduce stress and even add years to our lives. If you’ve run out of reasons to say no, just do what I did – smile and learn to love your new hermit crab.

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  1. There have been definite sacrifices we have made to have a dog from costs to family vacations. Still, we love out little furry one and she’s totally worth it 🙂 We also told our daughter we couldn’t have one because of the landlord before (which was true then) – they’re a great excuse!

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