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Picking the right pet for your child: Don't mess it up!

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Picking the right pet for your child: DonSome of the most rewarding social dynamics in a family are between children and their animals. We've all seen the kids' movies where the girl has a lovable cat and the boys have adventurous dogs and the animals all get lost in the wilderness but they find their way back home by working together. It's all very heartwarming.

Chances are, the first time your son or daughter see a movie like that, you're going to hear a barrage of pleading and begging. When the question comes, you should have an answer: "Yes."

Banfield Pet Hospital of Portland, Oregon, has graciously offered a few tips on deciding which pet to get. They recommend asking yourself a few questions before making the final decision.

First, how much time will you have to work with your child on caring for the pet? Some pets like dogs and cats require a fair amount of work to keep healthy and happy. For younger children, animals that are easier to care for like goldfish or hamsters may be a better choice. If your child can't take care of himself, he probably can't take care of a larger animal.

Secondly, how much space do you have? If you live in an apartment, you generally want to opt for a smaller dog or cat, rather than a large breed dog. Take noise into account as you don't want to annoy your neighbors. If you're thinking about getting an amphibian, reptile or other exotic animal, get professional advice as some of these can carry dangerous diseases.

Midsize or large non-aggressive dogs are the best canine choice for children. Avoid dogs traditionally bred to hunt small mammals, as you don't want your child to be mistaken for game. A large dog will be less likely to see your child as competition, and will more likely assuming a protective or caring role.

No matter what your choice, realize that in most cases, you will ultimately be responsible for the health of the animal, so make sure you pick a pet that you are comfortable warming up to.
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