Pets make a fantastic addition to any family. Whether your children are babes in arms, just starting school, or soon-to-be teenagers, a pet can bring boundless benefits to your home.

But there’s a lot to think about when you’re considering getting a pet – including which type of animal is most suitable for your circumstances. Cats and dogs are the most popular pets in the UK – so are cats or dogs better pets for children?

Why Get A Pet For Your Child?

Pets can bring joy to parents and children alike – but there are plenty of other reasons to get a pet, too. Studies have shown that pets can reduce the development of asthma and allergies, boost children’s social skills, and even enhance their self-esteem. The presence of pets can also be therapeutic for children, thanks to their unconditional affection.

Pets bring all kinds of benefits to kids – but there are also lots of potential drawbacks to consider before you introduce an animal into your family.

dogs as pets for childrenGetting A Dog For Your Child

Most dogs are friendly, fun, and extremely loyal – making them great playmates for children of all ages. Here’s why dogs are the UK’s most popular pet – and some of the considerations to think about before you commit to a canine companion.

Why Dogs Make Great Pets For Kids

If you want to encourage your kids to get outside more, dogs are the perfect pet. Walking the dog can help you and your kids keep fit, especially as it becomes part of your daily routine. For teenagers, taking the dog for a walk independently can also be a chance to take on more responsibility at home.

Dogs are famously friendly, so they’ll also offer a source of companionship and comfort to your kids. This can be invaluable if they’re going through a tough time at school, or having problems with friends.

Dogs can also help teach children about compassion and empathy. The inevitable bond forged between your child and your dog will help them understand more about the circle of life, and the ups and downs that come with it. This may not always be easy, but it’s certainly helpful in preparing your child for the future.

Things To Consider When Choosing A Dog

Dogs have a reputation for being affectionate and loyal – but, like any animal, they can be unpredictable, particularly if they feel threatened. That means any dog should be supervised constantly around toddlers and young children. Follow expert guidance on introducing a new pet to your kids – and be sure to take things slowly.

Age is a very important factor when deciding to get a dog. Older dogs will be more set in their ways, so if they’re unused to children, it may be difficult for them to fit into your family dynamic. Younger dogs tend to be more trainable, but they also need a lot more attention. Your child’s age also plays a part here – toddlers and young children will find it more difficult to understand how to approach an unfamiliar dog safely, so you’ll need to supervise the situation carefully.

It’s also important to consider your home and lifestyle. Dogs shouldn’t be left alone for extended periods, so if the house is empty for hours at a time, a dog may not be the right pet for you. Similarly, most dogs need plenty of exercise, so you’ll need to be comfortable taking them out in your neighbourhood all year round. Puppies in particular need plenty of attention and training when they’re young, so make sure you have the time you need to devote to your dog.

cats as pets for childrenGetting A Cat For Your Child

Cats are famously more fickle than dogs – but like their canine counterparts, they still make fantastic companions for children. 

Why Cats Make Great Pets For Kids

While cats have a reputation for being a little antisocial, the truth is that many cats are deeply friendly and affectionate. The difference is that cats are a little more fussy about who they choose to share their affection with.

But if you and your family allow them to approach you at their own pace, you’ll find that cats offer many of the same companionship benefits as dogs. They can quickly become an integral part of the family, offering comfort and affection to parents and children alike. Taking care of a cat also offers children many of the same responsibilities as looking after a dog.

Cats also require much less maintenance than dogs, in terms of training, time, and money. They’re less expensive to buy, and their food and insurance costs tend to be much lower than for dogs. This can be a crucial deciding factor when choosing a pet.

Things To Consider When Choosing A Cat

Like dogs, cats can be unpredictable. The key difference is that if a cat becomes aggressive, they are less likely to cause serious harm to a child – few will suffer more than a quick scratch, which is often more shocking than painful.

Some cats are more playful than others, but, generally, children will get less active interaction from a cat than from a dog. While cats often enjoy being passive recipients of affection, they’re less likely to engage in games or other activities – so for more active children, a dog may be more suitable.

Getting A Pet For Your Kids

Choosing the best pet for your family isn’t easy, and it depends on a range of factors – so take the time to consider which is the best choice for your situation. Whether you choose a dog, a cat, or a budgie, it’s inevitable that your new family addition will take up time, money, and headspace – so make sure you have enough of each of them before you decide to bring a furry friend into the fold.

Take a look at the rest of our pet and parenting pages to understand more about the impact of bringing a new dog or cat into your family.