Saturday, January 17, 2015

Small Pets That Are Great for Kids

Having pets can be a great experience for children. Pets offer love and companionship and teach children responsibility. Small pets are great for kids because they don’t require a lot of maintenance. They don’t need to be walked or played with every day and they offer kids a chance to demonstrate how much responsibility they are willing to take on. Before going out and buying a dog or a cat, train your kids with one of these little critters. Any of these small pets would make a great companion.

Guinea Pigs

These furry critters are sometimes confused with hamsters, but guinea pigs are a totally different affair. Guinea pigs are larger and less fragile than hamsters. They are also noticeably more affectionate and sociable. Life spans are longer with guinea pigs, living anywhere from 4 to 9 years. This gives kids a great opportunity to watch their pets grow and mature and even learn tricks. Bigger cages than that of hamsters are required and a full stock of toys to keep those critters active. As with all pets, kids should be made aware of what a healthy diet is. Guinea pigs should have a steady diet that includes a good dose of vitamin C for optimum health. Kids should also be taught how to clean up after their pet to ensure a healthy and happy life for both pet and owner.

The most common pet for young children, goldfish can be a fun and lovely pet to keep. Kids enjoy feeding fish and watching them eat, but should be warned not to overfeed. Overfeeding has often been the demise of pet fish, so take time to explain the feeding schedule to young kids. A decent sized bowl is required and kids will love choosing the different colored rocks for the bottom as well as any plants or accessories. To keep those fish healthy, make sure to show kids how to clean the bowl properly.

There is something fascinating about watching the lives of ants. Kids will find it interesting to watch ants build their homes and go about their work as they carry food to their lair. Ant farms never go out of style and don’t require much maintenance. Ant farm kits can be purchased from pet stores and regular shopping centers and come with instructions on how to care for ants. Kids will get a kick out of using the holding pen that comes with ant farm kits to capture their new pets from the great outdoors. Watching the lives of ants can demonstrate hard work and organization. Curious kids will be delighted.

Stick Insects
These insects are delightful to observe. They have a life span of only about one year, but they are fantastic to behold. A good pet for older kids, stick insects are fragile and should be handled delicately. They can also bite, so gloves should be worn when handling these spindly fellows. The bright side is, no fur, no feathers and all fun.

Soft and furry rabbit is a great pet for your children. The large selection of rabbit breeds (there are over 40 breeds) make rabbits a popular kids’ pet. Polish, Dutch and Holland Lops are among the most popular bunny breeds, and some larger bunny breeds such as the Flemish Giant are more tolerant of handling. Since rabbits generally live for about 10 years, getting a pet rabbit is a very important commitment. Rabbits are social animals so it’s better to buy a few rabbits, but make sure that all rabbits are spayed or neutered to avoid unintended breeding. Keep in mind that rabbits don’t like to be picked up or held and incorrect handling can result in the nails of a rabbit scratching a kid, or a rabbit’s legs or back being broken or injured. 
Rabbits don’t need baths because they groom themselves just like cats, but they require regular nail trims. A rabbit with maloccluded teeth need regular tooth trims done only by a veterinarian. Long-haired rabbits usually require everyday brushing. Rabbits must eat hay, so if anyone in the house is allergic to hay, a rabbit won’t be a good pet for your family.

The amazingly busy and beautiful hamster is a pet that’s really fun to watch. There are 5 species available, including the Syrian, Winter White, Roborovski, Chinese and Campbell’s. Chinese hamsters are illegal to have in some states, so be sure to check it before buying. The life span of the hamsters ranges from 1 to 3years, but the Syrian could live longer. The Syrian must have its own habitat, since they fight, sometimes even to the death.
Hamsters are the busy pets and they are always on the go. It’s fun to watch them play in a play area or in their habitat. The only disadvantage is the hamster’s sleep schedule. Hamsters sleep during the day and are awake and busy at night. Hamsters are self-groomers and they usually don’t need anything except a dust bath with the special dust.

I’m sure many people will agree that touching a super-soft fur of chinchilla is a pleasant sensation! Chinchillas live about 10 years old. Since chinchillas are herd animals, they must be kept as pairs (same-sex to avoid breeding). Like hamsters, chinchillas are pets more to appreciate by watching rather than interacting with them. Pay attention that handling can be difficult, and if you grab the fur wrong it can cause it to come out in clumps. Chinchillas require a dust bath several times a week. They also like to chew and they have constantly growing teeth, so to keep their teeth trimmed make sure to give them some chew items. Just like rabbits, chinchillas must eat hay, so if anyone in the house is allergic to hay, a chinchilla won’t be a good pet for your family.

Rats and Mice 
Mice and rats are small pets that simply perfect for children. An average rat’s life span is 2 to 3 years, so the time commitment is really low. Mice have less of a time commitment, because they live only 1 to 2 years. Both mice and rats are social animals and must be housed in the same-sex pairs or groups. But keep in mind that male adult mice might fight if they are housed together.

Rats are more kid-friendly pet and they enjoy interacting with their owners and love to hang out together. Their size is perfect for kids; they are not too small and not too big, but very easy to pick up and carry. Mice are smaller than rats and they don’t like interaction. They usually enjoy doing their own things and they are much more fun to watch than to hold. Both rats and mice groom themselves, so grooming for both pets is minimal. To keep the growing teeth trimmed, be sure to provide them with some chew items.

The playful gerbils are always busy, smart and they love to hang out with their owners. Gerbils live for about 2 to 3 years, but they pack plenty of living into that time. Gerbils are very social, that’s why it’s better to keep pairs or small groups of the same sex. With gentle handling, they learn to trust their owners and enjoy interacting. Never lift or hold a gerbil by its tail, because the tail is fragile, and the skin might come off leaving a gerbil with a naked tail.
Gerbils are self-grooming pet and they don’t require regular grooming. But, the owners have to offer a dust bath to them every week and always provide them with chew items to keep their always growing teeth trimmed.
It’s important to know that gerbils are illegal to have in a few states, so be sure to check it before buying one.

Finally, the ever-curious, charismatic ferret is a soft ragdoll when asleep and a furry ball of energy when awake. Generally, ferrets live for 5 to 7 years and they’re full of personality. Ferrets must be neutered or just live in same-sex pairs or groups. You can keep a ferret as a single pet only if you are very attentive owner. Keep in mind that ferrets require several hours of out-of-cage playtime. Ferrets also require very little routine grooming, occasional coat brushing or baths and regular nails trims. Moreover, ferret’s teeth should be brushed regularly.There are many different pets to choose from, and finding the one that suits your kid is key. Guinea pigs have all the fun, fur and cuteness kids love. Gold fish are beautiful and fun to feed. Ants and stick insects are entrancing and little trouble to keep. All these pets are great for kids because they don’t require a lot of up-keep. Pets are great companions for kids and a wonderful way to teach responsibility. Take a trip to the pet store and see what catches your kid’s eye. 

What do you think of my list? Which pets are great for children? Please comment below and thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Help Kids Cope with Pet Loss

Losing a beloved pet, whether it’s a dog or a gerbil, is never easy. For many children, a goldfish or favorite cat dying is often their first taste of death and it can be devastating for them. It’s difficult to see your little one mourn. Fortunately, you can take steps to ensure that your child comes to terms with the loss in a healthy way and is able to move on. Here are a few tips to follow to help your children cope with losing a pet.

Let your child grieve

It’s okay to feel sad when you lose someone you love and this should be conveyed to your child. If you were close to the pet, you can let them see that you are sad, as well. Avoid being sad for too long. Your children should learn how long they can grieve and how to live after the death of the pet or person they love.

Allow your child to be a part of the death

It’s important that children know what is going on. If a pet is deathly ill or is about to be put down, make sure you explain it to your child in terms he or she can understand. It may be difficult, especially if your child is highly sensitive, but this will lessen the impact later on.

Create a memento

Remember that special pet with something made to memorialize them. A scrapbook with memories written in it and photos of the pet can be a helpful reminder of the good days. Collect photos of your deceased animal and help your child put together a fun photo album that will help everyone remember the great times you all enjoyed. Add stickers and captions to make the book special. If you aren’t up to doing a full photo album, something like a photo frame or even one page of photos to hang on the fridge can be a good alternative.

Hold a memorial service

While you may feel silly holding a service for a mouse or fish, it can be a useful tool for helping a child move on. A service may include a burial, depending on how you decide to handle the animal’s remains. Have each person say something about the pet. Children can read an appropriate poem or lay flowers on the grave. If there is no burial, have the service in front of a photo of the pet.

Don’t get a replacement

It may be appropriate to get a new animal later on, but don’t rush to replace the lost pet. It’s important that your child have time to grieve. It is also a good idea to show children that death is part of life and that you can’t just buy a new creature to take away the pain. A rapid purchase can cause children to worry that if they die, they will also be replaced and you won’t feel their loss.

Make sure your child doesn’t feel responsible

Children tend to be fairly self-centered and this can lead to assuming that the pet’s death was their fault. Be sure to let your little one know that pets do die and that it’s normal, though unpleasant and sad. Make sure your child doesn’t blame himself for the pet’s passing.

Talk about the pet

Sometimes, when an animal or loved one dies, that part of life becomes closed and no one talks about it. For most children, it’s important to explain that they can share their good memories of their pet and talk about what happened. This will help them work through the pain and gradually move on. Ensure that your child understands death is final

Continue with regular activities

While your child may want to stay home and grieve, it’s best if he goes to school and after school activities, the same as usual. Returning to a normal schedule can help kids see that life goes on, even after a devastating loss. It will also give them something else to focus on.

Allow your child to keep something special

A favorite pet blanket, chew toy or collar can be a good thing for a child to hold onto. Don’t be surprised if he wants to sleep with the pet’s item. Keeping something special like a collar close by can bring comfort to the grieving child. It’s usually fine to let kids hang onto a few keepsakes.

It’s never easy when a much loved member of the family dies. Children who are experiencing loss for the first time are more likely to have a hard time accepting that their friend is gone. It’s up to you to console them and ensure that they understand exactly what happened. Answer their questions to avoid children coming up with fearful ideas of their own.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tips for Caring for a Parrot

A growing number of people are discovering that parrots make the perfect pet. Parrots are really beautiful, fascinating and super smart creatures. However, you need to learn about caring for them before running out to the breeder and buying the first parrot that you see. Here are a few useful tips for caring for a parrot.

Be ready for a messy and noisy house

Parrots toss fruit peels, seed casings, their toys, and the area around their cage can get very messy. Moreover, there’s also the matter of feathers and droppings. A large parrot can make lots of noise. Whether they are yodeling a country song or yelling nonsense, you cannot count on your parrot to be quiet just because you want to take a nap. Putting them in your garage or shutting them away in an isolated room is not a good option. In this way your parrot will become emotionally disturbed and can behave psychotically.

Consider location and temperature

Although parrots are social creatures, every parrot may have different needs. So depending on your parrot’s temperament, place the cage in the area where your bird will often interact with you. A kitchen is a bad place since cleaning and odors from cooking can be very harmful to your parrot! Parrots can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, so if you keep your house at a comfortable temperature for yourself, your parrot will also be comfortable. Temperature stability is the most important factor. Fluctuating temperatures can have a big effect on your parrot’s health.


Vary your parrot’s diet

No one likes to have the same thing every single day. Your parrot needs a varied diet with a wide range of nutritional value. Don’t feed your parrot seeds only. Discuss with your veterinarian what a better diet for your parrot. It’s usually agreed that a parrot needs a mix of seed, pellet, fresh leafy greens, veggies, legumes, grains and some fruits. Keep in mind that parrots must never be fed chocolate, avocado, alcohol, caffeine, salty or sugary snacks.


Keep an eye on claw, beak and feather health

When your parrot’s claws grow too long, go to a vet to trim them. Never try to do it by yourself since parrots have a very active blood supply to their claws and a cut could lead to a blood loss. Feather and beak condition are a great indicator of health. A lot of parrot deficiencies and diseases show up as poor feather condition or malformations of the beak. If your parrot shows change in feather or beak condition, see your vet as fast as possible.


Teach your parrot to talk

If you want your parrot to talk, you’ll need to spend a lot of time teaching it. If intense, limit your teaching sessions to 15 minutes at a time or just repeat the same words and phrases a few times during your ‘lesson.’ Parrots usually mimic the things they hear most often. Keep the phrases short, two or three words usually work best. After your parrot has mastered some words and phrases, you can teach it some useful communications.


Clean the cage

The bottom of the cage must be cleaned every two days, if your parrot is not too messy. Replace any liners and discard any seeds, shells, gravel, etc. Clean all of the toys in the cage. It’s also recommended to clean up any mess that does not require too much time once a day. Make sure you use a bird-safe disinfectant, which you can buy in your local pet stores.

Replace toys in different places

Once you’ve finished washing the cage, put your parrot’s toys back inside, replacing them in different places. Parrots are very intelligent and intensely curious, and unlike dogs and cats, they like changing stimuli.


Regularly visit the vet

While some parrots can be absolutely healthy forever, most of them still have some health problems, which could be solved with preventative veterinarian consultations. However, make sure your vet is one who sees parrots specifically or you’ll just be wasting your money.

Do you have any other tips for caring for a parrot? Feel free to share them with us in the comments section.

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