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How and When to Involve Your Child in Pet Care

Pets are members of the family. Teaching your child how to care for a pet is an amazing way to show them the importance of responsibility, empathy, and compassion. But how can we make sure that our kids are taking care of pets in an age-appropriate way? Let’s explore the best ways to involve our kids in the care of their furry friends. 

Toddlers (Ages 2-4)

The youngest members of your family can join in with pet care, but they should always be supervised and start with small tasks. 

  • Feeding: Help them pour food into bowls, guiding them on portion sizes. They may not have a solid understanding of portion size, so you may have to measure out the food yourself. 
  • Family Walks: While holding the leash yourself, include your children in regular walks to encourage healthy habits and introduce them to the idea of walking. 

Elementary School Age (Ages 5-9)

As children grow, so does their ability to take care of pets. Try increasing their responsibilities and see how they adapt. 

  • Playtime: Let your child take the lead during playtime, whether it’s throwing a ball or trying a new cat toy. However, always ensure you can supervise. 
  • Water: Show them how to refill water bowls, making it their daily responsibility.
  • Basic Grooming: Teach gentle brushing techniques to keep the pet well-groomed and happy, while emphasizing the pet’s comfort. 

Pre-Teens (Ages 10-12)

With more experience, pre-teens are ready for more advanced tasks as long as safety remains the priority. 

  • Supervised Walks: Give your child leash control in safe, enclosed areas after plenty of practice. However, if your pet is not properly leash-trained, this may not be a good idea until they can get more obedience training.  
  • Bathing: Your pre-teen can help out during bath time, provided that your pet is well-behaved and won’t jump or scratch. Show your child how to safely and properly bathe your pet and how to clean-up afterwards. 

Contact your veterinarian if you have any questions about introducing your children to taking care of your pet.