Whether your kids are Star Wars fans or not, they'll be begging for their very own long-haired Dachshund once they see this mini Hans Solo with his pal Chewbacca. This image is from a beautiful series by Mexican photographer Rocio Preciado of Cuije Photo and captures the amazing bond a child can have with their pet. So, which pet is right for your little ones?
Age & Stage
Before buying a pet, you need to consider factors such as allergies, family dynamics, vacations, cost and how much care it will require, who is responsible for its every need, and how big will it grow…
Here we list the pets (both traditional and alternative) that are suitable for your child's age and stage.
Meet the family
Just like if your bringing home a new sibling, it is just as important to talk about the new baby coming home with your existing pets, and when they do arrive, introduce them to each other, and explain to the pet any new rules, like they can not longer go in the baby room.
Babies & Toddlers: Bunnies
Babies and children under at least three years are not suitable for owning their ‘own’ pet, however co-existing with the family pets or playing with other peoples pets can be lots of fun.
Mobile petting zoos are a great way to introduce your child to the animal world.
Babies & Toddlers: Fish
Quiet, odourless (if bowl kept clean), allergy free and fish are the least expensive pets to buy and feed. They are also excellent pets if your family is likely to holiday away from the home a lot.
Not at all good however for cuddles or any great interaction with your kids, but they will certainly entertain and keep kids busy feeding and cleaning.
If you have room a baby chicken or duck is a nice pet to get an older sibling, as it will teach them how to handle both chick and baby 'gently'.
At this age you will have to take most of the 'care' responsibilities and remember when a chicken or duck grows up, they can be very noisy and can live up to 15 years.
A little bit more independent, is the hamster. It looks like a furry mouse with no tail (a guinea pig is much bigger). Hamsters are highly active, but only at night and like to be alone.
They don't mind being handled but will bite if they get cross.
Preschoolers: Insect Farms
A good idea for preschoolers is an ant farm (if your preschool doesn’t already have one). It is great to see how ants are so productive, making tunnels and storing food.
Or there is the slower paced silk worms, which are also low maintenance and educational, but you must have a good supply of mulberry leaves available.
Before the age of 10, a child is still too young to look after a pet on their own. So as it is down to you, pets like rodents might not sound too nice, but they make great a low-maintenance pet.
Mice are a great first pet, as they are easy to feed, cheap and happy to be handled.
Rats can make great pets as they are affectionate and bond to humans the same way that dogs do.
Pet rats (not wild rats) are actually quite clean animals, and have plenty of character
Primary School: Pig
Pigs are intelligent, inquisitive, social animals and can make great pets. The Vietnamese potbelly pig was quite popular in the '90s as they are more domesticated, and act like the family dog.
However, many local councils in Australia will not grant permits for a pig to be kept in a backyard so check before purchasing.
Primary School: Guinea Pigs
Their relative ease of caring for them and their docile nature makes the guinea pig a popular pet.
Remember, if you have a dog they can be quite fascinate by guinea pigs and so a sturdy cage is a must.
Primary School: Frogs
Frogs are very appealing as pets as they can be beautiful, active and low maintenance to keep, although they need to eat live insects daily (best to grow your own).
It is illegal to take a frog from the wild in Australia, as they must be purchased from a licensed frog breeder and licenses or permits are needed. You can find out what the laws are in your state at the Australian Frog Network website.
Primary School: Turtle
It is important to remember that the cute tiny baby turtles sold in pet shops in Australia like the Eastern Long-necked turtle can grow to the size of a soccer ball over their 40-year life span and require a lot of attention and care.
Some freshwater turtles also require a permit so it is best to check again with your local council.
10 to 14 year olds: Cats & Dogs
By this age, your child should be able to feed, walk and groom their own pet and if you haven't already got a 'family' dog or cat, it is probably the best option.
If you have budget issues you may like to reconsider certain breeds as feeding and vet bills can put you in the poor house. You might like to save an animal from the pound, where you can get free advice about what pet may suit you best, and there are often discounts on inoculations and de-sexing.
Dogs for all ages
They make great watchdogs for both your house and your child. They need exercising daily, which helps keep your family fit and the kids outdoors. Dogs are loyal, entertaining and most of all they love unconditionally.
There are also certain breeds of hypoallergenic dogs. But like all pets make sure you can afford its keep, and have enough room and time to look after it for the duration of its life.
Cats vs Dogs
Cat or dogs? Cats have less maintenance and groom and walk themselves, so it is easier for children to care for them.
They are also less likely to annoy the neighbours, however many people are allergic to them, and if you have a history of asthma in your family, your child may form allergies.
If you are being pestered for a new pet when your kids are teenagers, remember that they are likely to move out within the next 10 years, so if you don’t want to be looking after their pets after they have gone, get one that they can take with them.
Then there are some pets that are not welcome most places.
A budgie or parrot can brighten up the life of a studious teenager.
Although getting them to clean their messy cages can be tricky.
And of course all little girls want a pony, at any age.
If you live in the city, giving them lessons or getting away with a make believe one is a lot cheaper.
When sourcing your pet, particularly cats and dogs, be sure to consider a rescue option as there are many great, gentle-natured animals in animal welfare shelters that may be just right for your family.
A pet is for life!
As photos of Austin snuggled with his adorable baby French Bulldog caused the internet to meltdown with collective sighs of 'Awwwww', kids everywhere will be jumping up and down begging for their very own 'Frenchie'.
But how do you really know whether a particular breed of dog is right for your brood? See our gallery on Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds and Best Dog for Babies. Photo courtesy www.lovablefrenchies.com