Anonymous asked in Family & RelationshipsMarriage & Divorce · 1 decade ago

having pets (dogs, cats, hamsters, etc..) in the house with small children?

My husband and I were wondering, in your opinion

what are the pros and cons of having pets in a house with small children?

pets such as hamsters, dogs, cats, ect...

Our opinions differ slightly:

Being raised on a rescue farm, my father had me around all sorts of farm animals from a very young age, even as a toddler

As soon as I could walk, I was following my father around the barn watching him and helping with what I was able to help with...whether that was fetching water or holding a can of feed while he checked the hen's nests for eggs...

Of course I was supervised with the chickens and the dogs and other all other animals until I was old enough to understand that I needed to wash my hands after touching them; I also was supervised in handling of the animals and only allowed to handle them in an age appropriate manner

And as a result I'd like to think that I grew up more responsible, more compassionate as a result

My husband on the other hand had a very limited number of pets growing up, most of which were not in his care even when he grew older

However, as married adults, we share and love our fur-babies; we have 4 hamsters and one cat, all of which he plays with and cares for just as much as I do. I often catch him sitting in the play-pen with one fur-ball or another when I wake up in the middle of the night.

Man, he loves those little fluffies!

But at the same time he worries that having pets around small children might be a problem. He worries that having furry pets, like a dog or a cat might make our child more prone to asthma. Or that a pet like a hamster might carry some disease and transfer it to our child...

Now, I feel that if properly monitored that keeping pets would be beneficial to a child. The extra dirt around might even help boost their immune system (you don't expose them to things like germs when they are young, they are more likely to have a poor immune system as they grow older).

He worries that having pets around will make them ill.

We do however agree that pets would be an excellent way of teaching responsiblity and compassion...

We also feel that having pets is a good way of teaching about death, (its how my dad did it).

so whats your opinion?

what are the pros and cons of pet ownership for parents of small children?

including health risks/benefits and emotional risks/benefits?

(just to clarify, we're not fighting, just trying to find a comprimise and curious as to what other parents opinions might be)


should also mention, we're pregnant right now, due in January and both very excited

Update 2:

also forgot to mention,

I've been working with the Humane Society for most of my life, since my father owns a rescue; I also have worked as a professional groomer and am currently taking courses to become a veterinary technician (graduate in 3 years) so proper animal care would not be an issue

8 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Neither my husband nor his two girls were allowed to have pets, and it's really sad. They have NO IDEA how to interact with my dog, to the point that they scare her and grow very annoying by bothering her constantly. My husband has 0 patience with the dog's normal dog-like behavior. I can't imagine not being allowed to have a pet as a child, and it doesn't turn out well. I try to teach them but they're so old already they just don't seem capable of interacting with her normally.

  • 1 decade ago

    I was reading an article the other day about how dangerous certain pets (including hamsters) can be for small children:

    Believe it or not, they are a source of infection. Bacterial infection is a LOT different than "extra dirt." No one raises their kids in an aseptic environment, so I think the "extra dirt" theory is a bit of a wash. There's plenty of dirt, dust, and bacteria to go around in even the cleanest of houses. That's life. Don't throw more bacteria at your kids just in the hopes of making their immune systems stronger. It is really such a minute fraction of an issue that it isn't worth the risk of infecting your child. Additionally, there's more to worry about than just "germs." What about worms? Worms are an exceedingly common condition in cats and dogs. Small kids touch and taste and handle everything. Its super easy for your child to get worms that way. Is that something you really want? Worms are hard to detect and even harder to treat, because you often don't know which specific parasite it is. Now, that article mentions hamsters. But, as for cats, consider this, cats go EVERYWHERE. There is no training a cat. Cats will climb on counters, tables, where ever. They will spread fecal matter without you even being aware of it. Think of it, they use the litter box, paw around to cover it up, then jump all over the same counter tops where you cook food for your family. That's something to consider. It's a nominal risk for an adult or an older child, but in young children with compromised immune systems, that's an unnecessary risk. As for dogs, dogs stay more confined to the ground. Dogs can trace bacteria on the ground also, which is where a lot of kids spent most of their time crawling, playing with toys on the ground, etc. Additionally, some dogs are just NOT good with children. Even if you get a docile breed, there can always be an issue. Lastly, yes, having dogs and cats not only increases the chance of asthma, but it can also aggravate allergies due to pet dander.

    However, after about age 5, kid's immune system is fairly well developed, so these things, while still issues, if they arise, will not immediately become life threatening. In a child under five, asthma, allergies, worms, or infection can become an infant death before you even know what the problem is. In an older child, with a better immune system, death is less or a risk, and help can be more easily sought.

    Additionally, having pets teaches a lot of things, such as responsibility, love, caring, compassion, bonding, etc. I read a study a while back that said kids with pets are more well-adjusted. I think the key here is to wait until the child is above 5 to get a pet. Also, it adds to the magic of it for a child. It's a lot different to have a pet since before you were born than to get to pick it out, name it, love it, etc. To me, that's much more of a life lesson. Also, I wouldn't bombard a child with multiple pets. They may take it for granted, if you know what I mean. Also, I think if you are looking to teach the life lesson of death, then get a hamster when the child is 12 or so. Hamsters live about two years, so the child would be 14, and would be old enough to remember it (my sister's hamster died when she was 9 and she doesn't even remember that or the hamster), old enough to process it, etc. I don't think a dog or a cat is a way to "ease into" that life lesson. Also, if you get a pet after age 5, which is my suggestion in the best interests of the children for safety reasons, that animal will still probably be alive, even after the child is out of the house, in college, etc. I hope that helps.

  • 1 decade ago

    Well I have a 3 year old son and a 1 year old daughter and when my son was 1, I got him a little bunny. He called it a "puppy" but he was only 1! The bunny died a few months after we got it and he learned a little about death. Now we have 3 cats and the kids love them. He carried our kitten around all day when we brought it home. My daughter loves to pet the kitty and tries to sneak them chicken nuggets at dinner time. I think pets are awesome from the get go. We also foster rescue dogs from time to time and my kids love when we get a puppy in the house! It's a great way to teach them all sorts of things. And it doesn't make them more prone to asthma. That is a genetic disease. My daughter had it from birth. And we just got the cats this past March. So that's my opinion. Hope that helps.

    ADD: I also work in a vet's office and know for a fact that there are very few disseases that are zoonotic(i.e. can be passed from animal to human). As long as the animals are properly vaccinated(no farm store vaccines!), you have nothing to worry about.

  • Mary
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    They are great friends to children and help their development. I strongly recommend having pets in the house with children. But make sure you get the right pet, pittbulls are very risky along with pinchers and chows. But a nice mix would be great, Rats are better than hamsters because they don't stink, they are smarter, and more friendly, rabbits are good. Acctually, being around them from an early age can help build up immunity to asthma and other illnesses. Please do have your children around pets, this is a gift that can give them a much better life.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Having pets as a kid is great. I had my own cat (long hair) & hamsters when I was little. I had to groom my cat or else she would get matted balls on her stomach. It taught me how to care for her & I had to clean the hamsters cage & feed them. Once I was a teenager I had 3 dogs as well. I had to walk them, feed them, play with them. My parents always held me accountable.

    I'm not a parent but I really think there's a point where you can become phobic & take a lot of fun away from kids. When was the last time you heard of a child dying from playing with their pet hamster? You know? I mean people freak out now about lead in toys. I'm sure there were lead in my toys growing up & I'm just fine.

    I also think that it's a good way of understanding your kids. Like is your kid the type that wants to take the hamster to bed with him because the poor thing is lonely or is he is the kind that wants to squash the hamster & see what happens? LOL!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Only benefits for children to grow up with pets in the house as for asthma that is not a valid concern unless and until it happens; you can buy a room clean air machine and the dogs are fine but cats do carry disease and if you get one it will need to stay outside. If you child handles a hamster he/she will need to wash their hands after touching it, and keep some anti bacterial wipes handy.

  • 1 decade ago

    I think it is healthy to have animals around children. We have 3 indoor cats and 2 indoor dogs. They make our house more of a home. It teaches children to not be afraid of animals at an early age, which is good. You don't need a huge dog or anything, something in the middle. We love Chinese Pugs. Good natured dogs.

  • 1 decade ago

    i hear that in S,America they keep Guinea pigs in the houses as a source of food, and you can get Guinea pig and chips like our fish and chips so yes there alright as long as you don't become to attached to them by giving then names

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