This question came in over the weekend and I have a few thoughts for our readers. NO- you should never get a pet for your kids to learn responsibility. YES- they can learn responsibility having to take care of a pet but as a family you must first really want that pet. A dog needs loving, walks, food, vet care and approximate annual care for a dog is $1270 and a cat is about $1000. If your family is all- in then it is a great way to learn how to take care of someone else.
As I found out- if you own a dog be prepared to take care of it. I also advocate for adoption vs. puppies at the pet store or breeder. We went to Animal House Shelter to find our dog, Snickers, in October of 2016. She is a medium sized dog, about 50lbs but due to her anxiety issues her annual care is more than average. She requires socialization with dogs and people so she attends Doggie Playhouse’s Doggie Daycare once a week in order to become a better more socialized dog. This adds approximately $1500 a year in annual cost- that is a LOT of money to extend. I never sent my kids to daycare and yet I send my dog! Plus if you are a traveling family you have to add boarding into the mix. I use Doggie Daycare’s boarding as well because it’s crate and run free and she’s happy there. It’s $45/night so if you are gone for 10 nights- then yup- $450.00 another big expense.
Dogs and cats require veterinary care and food. I always recommend spending more money on quality food because that equates to less money on vet bills and a longer living and healthier pet. We personally buy Taste of the Wild Dog Food which lasts Snickers about 6 weeks at a cost of $48.99 a month. We either buy it off Amazon or Chewy online and it’s a fast and easy way to ensure we have healthy food on hand that is of good quality.
I also love Dinovite because it helps keep your dog and cat’s gut in balance. Snickers came to us with pink, raw and chewed on paws. We spent several hundred dollars at the vet bandaging them and putting salves on them and low and behold by googling a few things we learned it was a yeast infection on the pads of her feet and in between the folds. She chewed on her feet because they itched. Thirty days into Dinovite and her paws are no longer raw and she stopped chewing them. It costs about $45 every 60 days for that but worth every penny and a huge savings on her vet bill.
I also recommend- more food in the bowl and less treats unless you are buying high quality treats. Be sure to find out what weight your dog/cat should maintain and see how much food they need to keep that healthy weight. Dogs need to eat more as puppies. Snickers turned 2 and she suddenly wasn’t as hungry and that is totally normal so we cut back and she’s now on about 1 1/2 cups of dog food a day plus a few Chicken Jerky Treats.
Speaking of responsibility if you do decide to get a dog it’s a good idea to assign a dog/cat caretaker for each day. So if you are assigned you know it’s your job to change the cat litter or walk the dog or feed the dog/cat. It’s important that chores are a way to earn trust in the family and to become a team player. We have never paid our kids to do chores nor will we- we do however establish the “Team” mentality. We are all members of a team so if one of us is on the Disabled List (sick, away from home etc) the rest of the team needs to pitch in. Being responsible is a mindset from taking in the mail to washing the dishes or cleaning a bathroom- if you take the team approach- you divide and conquer. I advise this in any situation be it a pet, keeping the house clean and organized and yard work.
So get a pet if you the parent wants a pet and if your kids chip in then it’s a bonus but otherwise know (like I found out) that your dog might have to pee at 4am and it will be YOU not your child taking them out at night.