Having a pet can add a whole other dimension to your family, giving your kids something to play with, something to care for, and something to love. Whether it's a cat, dog, snake, hamster, guinea pig, Gila monster lizard, or a bunny, there are so many wonderful things about pet ownership. Because there are different levels of care for each one, it's a good idea to research which pet might be right for your family, but no matter which you choose, there are many reasons why it's great for kids to have pets.
Pet ownership gives your kids a range of benefits, from making them more responsible and slightly less self-centered to just bringing them sheer happiness. Having somewhat recently adopted two adorable kittens (who have since grown into ravenous, rambunctious teenage cats), I never expected to feel so much love for an animal, even one who pokes me awake at 5:30 a.m. most mornings and has torn up one of our couches. My previously scared-of-animals daughter can't get enough of them. We waited a long time to get anything more ambitious than a hamster or a goldfish and, to be honest, I'm kind of sorry we did.
Dr. Sara Joseph, a veterinarian in Massachusetts who has been practicing almost 25 years, tells Romper that pets can unite a family. "Households can have conflicts," she says, "but what most family members agree about is how awesome, remarkable, and adorable their pet is." Dr. Joseph also cautions that one of the toughest parts of pet ownership is the loss of the pet — it's one of the hardest yet most valuable lessons a child can learn.
Because it's better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all, here are all the good things to remember when contemplating taking the pet plunge.