Updated 07/04/2012 05:00 AM
Child Wellness: Finding the right pet for your family
What child doesn't want a pet for a pal? If you are considering a pet for your family, there are a few things you need to consider. Marcie Fraser has more.
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Your child's age is the first factor when looking to add a pet to your family's home. If you have a newborn, it’s probably a good idea to pass altogether.
"Early newborn period there is going to be a lot of focus on getting to know that child, caring for that child, so it's not a good idea to go out and purchase a new pet in the first six month of an infant’s life," said pediatrician Dr. Manny Cirenza.
A child younger than 8-years-old may not be a candidate for smaller pets like mice or gerbils. They can be easily and unknowingly manhandled. Lizards or iguanas may be a cool pet, but carry risks.
"Some of those pets can carry certain diseases, bacteria, salmonella, is a famous one with reptiles. Children really need to be trained if they are going to have a pet like that about washing their hands and appropriate care for a pet like that," said Dr. Cirenza.
Dogs may be a good bet, but don’t let little dogs fool you - they can be hyper and hard to handle. Learn the temperament of a dog before you bring them home, whether they are big or they are small.
"The temperament of a larger animal is something to consider, whether it is a cat or dog, can it handle a child who may unknowingly manhandle it," said Dr. Cirenza.
A pet can be a learning tool for teens.
"It is really an excellent, excellent learning opportunity for them to learn responsibility, caring, passion and patience," said Dr. Cirenza.
One of the things you don't want to do is bring a pet home is find out there is a problem. Allergies can be a big issue for people, so before you bring your pooch home, do your homework.
"You need to do your research about pets and what goes into caring for them and what you can expect with that pet," said Dr. Cirenza.
For many families, the easiest pet to take on may be a fish.