11 Best Small Pets For Kids And Pros & Cons Of Having Them

A child can find a true companion in a pet. If you plan to identify the best pets for kids, reading this post can help you. Growing up with this non-human friend can effortlessly instill the virtues of love, compassion, and care in your child. Pets make children more responsible in their actions and empathetic towards others. However, it is important to pick up the right pet to match your child’s personality and your family’s convenience. It includes sticking to the docile critters and preferably avoiding the wild animals. Again, your child’s pleasure should not cost the animal its freedom. Keep reading this post where we have compiled a list of different animals and the pros and cons of having them as pets.

In This Article

11 Best Pets For Children

1. Dogs

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“Sometimes you do not need words to feel better; you just need the nearness of your dog.” – Natalie Llyod

Domesticated dogs make excellent pets and hence a common choice among pet lovers. Depending on their availability and suitability in your region, there is a wide range of puppy breeds to explore. Prefer dog breeds that are kid-friendly and socialize easily. Some of the breeds that are known to be great companions for children are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Pomeranians, and Poodle.


  • Dogs are known to turn the environment playful and relax the mood.
  • Dogs are often sensitive to their owner’s or child’s mood. They can often bring comfort when a child is distressed or anxious.
  • Playing with them requires running around the house that can keep your child active.
  • They are known to stay loyal to their owner.

Bella Bucchiotti, a lifestyle blogger passionate about dogs and food, recounts her experience with her dog Beau and the life lessons Beau imparted to her. She says, “Beau taught me to enjoy the little things. But more than that, he taught me to enjoy everything! As much as I possibly can! He never gets tired of treats, walks, or our afternoon naps. He never gets bored with his favorite ball. He’s definitely one to indulge in his favorite things over and over. Seeing how happy that makes him has inspired me to do the same! More walks! More movies! (i).”


  • Dogs require training that involves significant time and effort.
  • They warrant proper care and attention from their owner. If you leave a domestic dog alone, they start feeling lonely.
  • Regular visits to the veterinarian are necessary for immunizations to maintain their health.
  • They might bite accidentally, especially when irritated.
  • Some dogs, such as Akita (guard dog), tend to turn aggressive when teased. Thus, they must be avoided as pets in families with young children.

protip_icon Point to consider
Having a pet at home can help reduce stress and anxiety. Kids who learn to care for a pet, also learn the importance of handling responsibility at a young age (2).

2. Cats

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“Time spent with cats is never wasted.” – Sigmund Freud

Cats and kittens are adorable animals loved for their independent nature. They are a better choice for your child if you do not have ample living space. However, be aware of their strong-will, which makes it challenging to handle at times. Some kid-friendly cats that you could consider are Abyssinian, Burmese, and Maine Coon.


  • Cats play with themselves often. Their hunting instinct makes it easier to play several games with them.
  • Their naughty behavior can keep your child engaged by keeping the mood playful.
  • When compared to dogs, most cat breeds need less attention and time.


  • The biggest drawback of having cats is that they can be extremely moody and defensive. When in rage, they might scratch or bite.
  • They tend to spread allergies more easily than dogs.
  • Their independent nature can cause them to wander away. They do not like to stay in one place for long.

3. Fish

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“People in grief need someone to walk with them without judging them. So they keep fishes in aquarium.” – Anonymous

A fish is a calm, distant companion and a great starter pet that your child would love. Their colorful appearance and gentle movements are visual treats that can be calming to your child. But, while selecting a fish, stay informed of their specific needs. Some fishes need more care than others. Thus, buy fish from a reputable store where an expert can guide you about the right fish type to pet and the care it warrants.


  • They are quiet, calming, and fascinating to watch, especially for young children.
  • They can be a great option for children who prefer to watch rather than interact with a pet.
  • Their swimming skills can amuse and may even come across as educational for older children.


  • Inability to touch, cuddle, and pamper a fish may be upsetting for some children.
  • Fishes need the right kind of food in specific quantities.
  • Cleaning and maintaining a fish tank requires time and effort. It ensures that they survive longer in a human-made habitat.

4. Birds

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“The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.” – J.M. Barrie

Birds are colorful, independent, and flying is essential for them. Caging them may not be a good idea. For children, birds are an amusing and enjoyable sight. Therefore, if they wish to have a bird, instead of caging, motivate them to have an open birdhouse. You can keep this on your terrace or in the garden. Some of the safe and friendly bird species that your children can have are parakeets (budgies), parrots, quaker parrots, canaries, lovebirds, cockatoos, cockatiels, and parrotlet.


  • Birds are entertaining and amusing for children, especially young children who like to watch them fly.
  • They are known to be safe for children as they seldom bite or scratch.
  • They are low on maintenance due to their minimal diet and general care needs.


  • Some birds can be noisy and messy, so you need to be careful with young children around.
  • Handling and training birds require time and patience.
  • Cleaning their cage is a tedious task that you must do at least two to three times a week to prevent the spread of any allergy or infection through bird droppings.
  • Uncaged birds can nibble on furniture. Thus, keeping them in the open, outside the house is a good practice.

5. Rabbits

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A rabbit living with you is not weird, it’s truly wonderful.” — Unknown

From cartoons to real life, rabbits, much fondly called “bunnies” are lovable creatures. These cute little tame and tender animals move swiftly and like to stay in the wild. Rabbits are a good option if you have a lawn or garden where they can play around.


  • They are entertaining for children who like to watch them hopping around.
  • In general, rabbits are safe for children, especially older ones, who are aware of the techniques to hold a rabbit carefully.
  • They are low on maintenance as they do not need any specific training or special food to eat.


  • Young children need guidance to handle rabbits as they are sensitive.
  • Can bite or scratch sometimes; so you need to be watchful when children are playing with rabbits.
  • Their pen needs almost daily cleaning to ward-off the smell from their excretions.
  • If you have a dog or a cat as a pet, then rabbits need extra vigilance as they might get preyed.
protip_icon Do remember
Just like pets, your child needs regular physical activities for healthy growth. Playing with pets or taking the pet for a walk keeps your child physically active.

6. Hamsters

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“Try to be a hamster to pursue nook and corner in order to snuff out your paucity.” – Arthu

Hamsters are small, furry, inquisitive mammals that children will love to pet. They are considered one of the best small pets for children. However, these tiny creatures are solitary and get frightened easily by sudden movements and loud noises. Thus, with young children in the house, tending hamsters might get tricky.


  • They are affordable and inexpensive. However, that depends on the species that you select.
  • Some hamsters are social, while some others are not. But, in general, hamsters demand relatively less attention than cats and dogs.
  • They do not require any specialized training as they mostly stay in their pen and prefer to play with toys like chew, igloo, or hammock.
  • They do not need a large living space due to their small size.


  • Hamsters often nap during the day, and if awakened suddenly, they may bite. Thus, proper care is required if you have young children at home who could tease a hamster.
  • Children under eight years are recommended to tend to hamsters under parental guidance.
  • A pair of hamsters can be a mess as they might fight and inflict injuries on each other.

7. Guinea pigs

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“I have a cat. When I was younger, I had a guinea pig.” – Alison Goldfrapp

Guinea pigs are a popular choice for pets partly because of their furry cute looks that are likely to appeal to children. The animal does have some specific needs in diet, which mostly consists of hay, grass, fruits, and vegetables.


  • Responds to your child’s actions and turns the environment playful.
  • They are less skittish than smaller rodents.
  • They rarely bite, so they are considered relatively safe for young children.


  • Spot-cleaning its hutch needs to be done several times a day as they poop a lot.
  • Constant trimming is required as their nails grow fast.
  • Being a social animal, they need at least one guinea pig as a companion.
  • They require ample space to live. Keeping them in small pens can make them fussy and irritated due to restricted activity.

8. Turtle

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“Try to be like the turtle – at ease in your own shell.” – Bill Copeland

Turtles are a common pet in many homes. Children often pick them up from beaches and keep them in glass bottles or plastic boxes. However, it is best to pick turtle bred for being kept as a pet to avoid the spread of pathogens from a wild turtle. Also, a domestic home is not the right place for wild turtles to survive.


  • They are appealing to children who love to watch them amble.
  • They like to stay in one place for longer, so you or your child does not have to run after them.


  • They are a potential source of salmonella bacteria. This risk can be mitigated by purchasing only human-bred turtles from reputable pet stores.
  • Turtles should never be left loose as they end up crawling outside the house, on the road, or to other places where there is a risk of injury.
  • They need specialized care throughout life as they are not growing in their natural habitat.

9. Rats

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Rat as a pet may not be everyone’s choice, but some children do not hesitate to pet a rat. Rats are related to guinea pigs, and thus can show several similar behavioral attributes that make them great pets for children.


  • Intelligent, friendly, and affectionate that makes them fascinating for children.
  • They are easy to train. Children love to train them to sit on a toy car or walk over a toy bridge.
  • Rats can be sensitive to their owner’s emotions. They can be a source of calming as well as cheer from their funny antics.
  • They keep themselves clean and groomed, unlike many other animals.
  • They do not require a large space to live.


  • You need to be alert and vigilant while keeping a rat if you already have a cat or a dog at home.
  • Being a nocturnal creature, they tend to move and make noises at night that can be disturbing.

10. Hermit crab

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Keeping a hermit crab as a pet is a surprising choice for parents. However, these active and curious arthropods are popular among children. Before you get a hermit crab as a pet to your child, consider the poor survival rate of hermit crabs outside the wild .


  • These silent creatures are easy to care and low on maintenance.
  • They do not make noise and do not require constant attention.


  • Need a specific humidity level to survive. In areas with low humidity, hermit crabs do not survive.
  • They cannot molt properly in captivity. For molting, they need sand that is dense and damp to burrow.

11. Brine Shrimp

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Brine shrimps or sea-monkeys are tiny aquatic creatures that are easy to care and inexpensive. Just like fishes, they need to be kept in an aquarium or fish tank where your young child can watch them grow.


  • Brine shrimps are low maintenance until they grow into an adult.
  • These small creatures do not make noise.
  • They do not require constant attention.


  • You need to frequently change the water in the fish tank as brine shrimp is sensitive to water quality.
  • The eggs of brine shrimp require constant light for hatching.
  • If the tank gets overcrowded, shrimp die.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which pets can be left alone for a week?

Fish, hermit crabs, turtles, ducks, tarantulas, and hamsters are some pets that can be left alone in the house for a week or so. However, it’s not advisable. Ideally, you should not leave a pet alone. In case you have to do so due to unavoidable circumstances, you should keep them with some family members, friends, or in foster care centers for pets.

2. What is the most popular pet in the world?

Dogs and cats are considered the most popular pets in the world. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (2017-2018), about 38.4% of households in the US own dogs, whereas 25.4% of households own cats and only 2.8% own birds (1).

3. Should children with ADHD have pets?

Allowing children with ADHD to have pets can be beneficial. Pets can provide companionship and love and teach responsibility. However, it’s crucial to evaluate the child’s capability to care for a pet and ensure adequate support and supervision for the safety and well-being of both the child and the pet (3).

4. What age should a child get a pet?

The appropriate age for a child to have a pet differs depending on their maturity, sense of responsibility, and capability to care for an animal. It is recommended to assess a child’s readiness and involve parental guidance when considering pet ownership at an age where they can understand and actively contribute to its care (4).

5. Can a child with allergies still have a pet?

A child with allergies can have a pet by implementing suitable strategies to manage their allergies. This could entail choosing pets that are hypoallergenic or have lower allergenic properties, as well as adhering to medical guidance to reduce allergen exposure (5).

6. Should I adopt a pet from a shelter or buy one from a breeder?

Choosing between adopting a pet from a shelter or buying one from a breeder is a personal decision. Adopting from a shelter gives a home to a deserving animal in need, while buying from a breeder offers more control over the breed. Consider your values, preferences, and the pet’s needs before making a choice.

In this post on the “best pets for kids,” we have listed the advantages and disadvantages of each pet. Since you know your child better, choose their furry companion based on the interaction level that is comforting to them. Since pets are long companions, understand that a huge responsibility would also fall on you. Their adoption may hinder your daily chores and your freedom. Hence, if you wish to adopt a pet, be ready to take up the responsibilities that come with them.

Infographic: Benefits Of Having Pets At Home

Owning a pet is a great responsibility, and it helps children learn valuable life skills that will make them better people as they grow up. If your child desires a pet, but you have been resisting the idea, this infographic will help you make the right decision. Here, we discuss how pet ownership can benefit your child in several ways.

benefits of having pets at home for kids (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Domesticated dogs, including golden retrievers, labrador retrievers, and poodles, can be the best pets for kids
  • Fish is low maintenance, a distant companion, and probably the best first pet for children.
  • Cats can also be good companions. However, they can be moody and defensive at times.

In search of an ideal family pet? View this video presenting the top 10 beginner pets for children and amateurs.

Personal Experience: Source

i. 9 things my dog has taught me.


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