When’s the right time to get a pet for your family

When’s the right time to get a pet for your family

Getting a new pet is a big decision, and one that should be made thoughtfully, especially when you have children.

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mum with children and pet rabbit outside

Pets large and small will teach, delight and offer your child a special kind of companionship, but when is it the right time to get a pet for your family? We look at the best time to introduce a new furry family member into your home and the pets that will best suit your child’s age.

The right time to introduce a new pet to your child

baby with pet kitten copy

If you’re more than a few months pregnant or have a newborn baby, it’s best to wait until your child is three years or older before bringing a new pet home.

A baby will consume most of your free time, and getting a new pet is another big commitment of time and money. To ensure you’re doing right by your new pet, it’s important to make sure they’re covered with the right pet insurance policy.

It’s also important that your child is mature enough to behave responsibly around a furry family member, and while each child matures at a different age, your child probably won’t be ready to respect the family pet until the age of seven or eight years.

Choosing a pet for your child

Once you're certain that your child is ready to take on the responsibility that comes with having a pet, you need to choose one.


  • Temperaments and energy levels vary by dog breed, so it’s key that you find one that works well for your family.
  • Dogs are likely the most time consuming and costly pets. They need regular exercise and grooming and can’t be left alone for extended periods of time.
  • If you’re contemplating getting a dog that will grow up with your toddler, pick a large breed. Small dogs are often more nervous and can be injured by a curious or rambunctious toddler. A bigger breed dog often has a more patient temperament.


  • Cats can be affectionate, but they're also independent. A kitty is a great pet if you want a furry resident to cuddle, but not have to take on all the responsibilities that come with a dog.
  • However, a cat is still a big commitment and requires food, water, care and attention on a daily basis.
  • Cats do not enjoy being roughly handled, chased or screamed at. Not all six-year-old children have the same capacity for being gentle with small animals. As a parent, you will have a general idea of how your child will be with a cat.


  • Although rabbits can be affectionate, many bunnies don't like to be held, which may be difficult for a younger child to understand.
  • Rabbits are rarely a good choice for children younger than seven years. The natural exuberance of the average toddler can be stressful for rabbits.
  • However, if your child is under the age of seven and is generally easy-going, calm, gentle, and cooperative, you may enjoy having a bunny as a part of the family.
  • One of the biggest benefits of having pets is often unexpected: they can help families grow stronger and closer. A pet is usually the focus of activities - everyone takes the dog for a walk or is entertained by the cat chasing his tail.

As a responsible pet parent, it’s important to consider how you would cover the cost of unexpected veterinary treatment if your new pet should become ill or injured. Petplan pet insurance offer a range of policies including their signature Covered For Life[R] plans. Visit Petplan today to find out more about pet insurance or for information on caring for your pet. 



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