Kids and Pet Care: Taking Responsibility for the Family Pet

kids and pet careMany of us have fond memories of our childhood pets. Whether we enjoyed a relationship with a loyal family dog, cat, or other pet, we likely learned a thing or two about responsibility while cultivating a lifelong love of animals.

The bond between kids and pets is certainly special, but learning to care for a pet can be just as important. Figuring out the details of kids and pet care can be tricky at times, but your team at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates is here for you every step of the way.

When to Start?

Making sure that your child’s pet care responsibilities are in line with his or her age and ability is the first step toward fostering a lifelong love of pet ownership:

  • Babies – Obviously, there’s not much a baby can do as far as helping with daily pet care tasks, but this is the perfect age to begin reinforcing “gentle touches” when it comes to petting and learning when to give the family pet space.
  • Toddlers – Very young children can assist Mom or Dad with simple pet care tasks, such as brushing, feeding, and giving treats.
  • 3-5 years – As your child grows, he or she can help to fill food and water bowls and continue to assist with grooming and other basic tasks.
  • 6-12 years – Older children are usually able to take on more tasks beyond feeding and watering, including playing with/exercising pets, changing cage lining/bedding, and helping with more advanced responsibilities like bathing, nail clipping, dental care, and training.
  • Teens – Responsible teenagers can generally take on the majority of pet care duties, including feeding, walking/exercising, and grooming. Many teens enjoy learning about and taking charge of training and other aspects of pet wellness.

Every child is different in terms of personality, maturity, and dependability. Finding what works for your child will probably involve trial and error, a little bit of patience, and plenty of guidance and enthusiasm on your part.

Kids and Pet Care

Involving kids with the daily pet care duties can lead to many natural teaching moments, such as:

  • The daily walk – A great time to discuss the merits of regular exercise for both pets and people!
  • Feeding – Feeding the family pet provides the perfect excuse to talk about nutrition, portion control, and the dangers of feeding people food to pets.
  • Exercising outdoors – Besides having fun, use this opportunity to teach your children about heatstroke in pets, and point out ways to keep pets cool in warm weather (shade, plenty of fresh water, sprinkler/kiddie pool, and going inside when it’s too hot).
  • Grooming – Pets, like kids, should have their teeth brushed every day. Involve your children in this activity and point out how important it is for everyone to have healthy teeth and gums.

Questions about kids and pet care? Your friends at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates are here for you!