YES: Loyal and loving, these social animals thrive on being upstanding members of their family "packs."
NO: If there are kids in the house, your best bet is a medium- to large-sized dog older than 5 months. Kids under 7 are usually not developmentally suited for younger puppies. Toy-sized dogs less than 15 pounds do not hold up well with rough handling from young children.
YES: Cat are the most popular pet in the U.S. Less work than a dog, but still high on the cuddle scale. Adult cats are a better choice.
NO: Your cat probably won’t want to hang out with you all day or be interested in learning to do all the things that a dog would.
YES: Fish are a great choice for those with allergies, limited space and/or those who lean towards the exotic. Coldwater fish are great first-time pets for kids, under adult supervision. Common goldfish can live for more than 10 years if properly cared for, however.
NO: If only a pet that’ll follow you around, lick your face or play fetch will do, a finned friend is not for you.
YES: These animals are the most docile and vocal of all rodents. Readily tamed and easy to handle, guinea pigs love to sit on their humans’ laps. Under adult supervision, guinea pigs are excellent first pets for children.
NO: These critters need time out of the cage to exercise every day. These guys also have special dietary needs.
YES: Hamsters are busy little rodents very popular with kids. Good choice for apartment dwellers.
NO: Hamsters sleep during the day and are active at night. Because of their nocturnal nature and tendency to bite when mishandled, not recommended for families with young children.
YES: Rabbits can be trained to use the litter box, they’ll come when called and their favorite activities are to dig and to chew.
NO: In most cases, rabbits and young kids are a terrible match. No doubt, many children love bunnies, but they’ll want to show their love by hugging and picking them up. Rabbits naturally feel insecure when picked up and will do anything in their power to get down.
YES: Popular species like budgies (more commonly known as parakeets) can make a great pet. They will enjoy perching on your shoulder and can be taught to mimic words and household noises.
NO: Birds can be really messy. You’ll need to clean the cage and surrounding area daily.
For more information on how to choose the perfect pet for your family, visit www.aspca.org/petcare.
SOURCE: ASPCA, with permission