Choose the right pet for your kids | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

PUPPY LOVE. The author’s 3-year-old son Juanmi with his beloved Charlie Brown
PUPPY LOVE. The author’s 3-year-old son Juanmi with his beloved Charlie Brown

I grew up with dogs. I still remember Che-Che, my first puppy. I was very young and had no idea how to handle a dog properly.


I remember doing foolish things, like pulling the dog’s tail when I tried to get her to come to me, and I vaguely recall getting snapped at because of this. But that obviously didn’t stop me from developing a life-long love of dogs.


I was around five or six when I came home from the hospital after a bout of pneumonia, exhausted and down from the experience of needles and tests, and who should come running with a surprise to cheer me up? Che-Che.


She had had puppies while I was gone and there, in a makeshift little home in our garage, was a litter of adorable little Japanese Spitz puppies. They were all immaculate white except for the tiniest one, who seemed to have a touch of creamy pink, or at least that’s how I remember her.


I picked her up and named her after my then favorite storybook character, Beauty.


Then, just when I thought I had found my favorite, a little puppy came crawling out of a pile of junk, covered in black dirt. I picked him up to get him cleaned only to realize he wasn’t dirty after all. I called my new little baby Blacky. So much for originality.


As the years went by, my puppies grew up. Some passed away, while others had more puppies, so there was never a time when we didn’t have an adorable four-legged creature running around the house and keeping me company in my room, despite my mom’s nonstop reminder to not let the dogs come up.


Fortunately, I married a man with the same affection for dogs, and so it comes as no surprise that we have four in our home—three yip-yapping little ones and a big oversized baby that runs straight at me every chance it can get.


My kids are growing up side by side with their four-legged friends, as well as their swimming buddies in the aquarium and our “Boom-tarat-tarat” singing cockatoo, Marvin.


Furry friend


The pets have been wonderful for all of us, especially my 3-year-old son who goes straight to the kitchen to get “his” dog, Charlie Brown, as soon as he gets home from school. He’s got his friends, but even when he doesn’t, I can see he is never lonely as long as he’s got his furry friends.


Aside from companionship, you can also count on pets to help your child develop a sense of responsibility, or in the case of excited and eager little children, over responsibility! You might find them trying to feed your fish for the fifth time or give them the food right off their spoons!


My daughter is fond of our pets, too, but I can see it’s not the same kind of love my son has for them. But just the same, from an early age, I’ve seen how the dogs can stir feelings of concern and empathy from her when they get sick or, in one instance, lost.


Perhaps I am a little biased, but I truly believe that a pet makes a great addition to any family, but of course, there are many things to consider before bringing home a new family member.


The first and foremost consideration would be your and your children’s allergies. In every home, there always seems to be at least one member allergic to animals.


A quick trip to a doctor’s office can often tell you what kind of animal you or your child may be allergic to.


Some people think that if they are allergic to one cat or dog, they are automatically allergic to all types and breeds. More often than not, this is not the case. It’s just a matter of finding a hypoallergenic breed that won’t make your allergies act up.




Bear in mind, though, that “hypoallergenic” is not “nonallergenic,” because there’s really no such thing, other than the stuffed version. Hypoallergenic cats and dogs may still cause minor reactions.


If you find yourself still wanting to be a dog or cat owner despite a possible allergy, some good hypoallergenic dogs are the Bichon Frisé, Samoyed and poodle.


All are very cute breeds and, as a bonus, have a friendly and gentle temperament which is great for families with small children.


Schnauzers and Shih Tzus are also hypoallergenic, but might be better suited to older children due to their nippy temperaments. A Yorkshire Terrier is also supposed to be a hypoallergenic breed.


The only drawback is the maintenance of their hair. Some have long hair, which will need to be washed and brushed regularly to prevent matting.


If you prefer a cat, you can  try getting a Balinese or a Javanese, neither of which has an undercoat, and, therefore, produces less of the allergy-causing Fel D1 protein that other cats produce.


According to, the Oriental Shorthair is also a good option, but you will have to groom it frequently to keep dander away.


The Devon Rex, Cornish Rex and Sphynx don’t have much fur but you will need to bathe it regularly to avoid oil buildup.


The Siberian is supposed to have “lower than average enzyme” in their saliva, making it supposedly a reaction-free cat for many people with allergies.


If allergies are not a problem, some of the other child-friendly dog breeds are bulldogs and Bull Terriers. They may look intimidating, but these are among the friendliest, and are often strong enough to withstand a little rough manhandling from little hands.


Two of the world’s most famous pets, Lassie and Snoopy, or the Collie and Beagle respectively, are also very good choices for families with children, though the Collie will need constant grooming.


If you have enough space and time, you can’t go wrong with a Labrador Retriever or a Golden Retriever, both of which are full of energy to match that of your children and, above all, patience and affection.




For allergy-free cat lovers, recommends the Abyssinian which is relatively “friendly and sociable,” the Burmese for its “affectionate and gentle” nature, or the Birman which is supposedly the “easygoing” one.


If you have a dog at home, too, try the American Shorthair, which is “known for getting along with dogs.”


Rabbits are a popular option, too. Find me a little girl who doesn’t think rabbits are adorable. They can live indoors and are generally mild mannered and, as social animals, get along with human beings but can also just happily hop around on their own.


As a mammal, it is susceptible to rabies, but if it will be an indoor pet, it is highly unlikely that it will get the disease. Just the same, a rabbit will need vaccines and other shots regularly.


However, allergies are not the only consideration.


Consider your family’s lifestyle. Do you have enough time to play with your dog and walk it daily? For cats and rabbits, is there someone who can regularly clean out its litter box?


If you and your children are very busy, opt for a cat which has a more “independent” temperament and will not need as much cuddle or playtime as a dog, or other pets which are in cages such as little mammals like hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils and rats.


However, teach your child how to handle them gently and carefully or they may bite. Make sure your vet keeps them rabies-free as well.




Birds are also delightful pets, which do not need as much maintenance as other animals but can provide a lot of fun, especially if you get an intelligent breed such as the cockatoo which can entertain your family with its singing.


However, some birds have a chalk-like powder under their feathers and wings which may cause minor irritation or allergic reaction.


For families who prefer non-cuddly animals, you can also try raising insects and arthropods, ant colonies or fish. But stay away from turtles and other amphibians which can carry the salmonella bacteria.


The US has had a ban against the sale of turtles as pets since 1975 due to the risk of spreading salmonellosis. Unfortunately, not many people know this, and many parents continue to buy turtles as family pets.


There are many reasons to get a pet, and perhaps just as many not to, but once you have one and it becomes a part of your family, you’ll never regret getting it.


Best of all, you will provide your children with an additional family member to love and care for.