Thinking of bringing a pet into your home? Then take note of Ted the vet's top picks for families.
The Ragdoll Cat
Cats being cats, they'll decide if they like kids. If the kids aren't too young and understand the difference between petting and hitting (or grabbing and squeezing!) then most cats can be good family pets. Ragdoll cats (they go limp when you pick them up) are a popular choice and don't mind being carried around by younger kids. Ted personally steers people away from Siamese, calico and tortoiseshell cats because they have the most potential for bad attitude.
Guinea Pigs or Skinny Pigs
Guinea pigs or skinny pigs, which are hairless, are great. They are very gentle, but with lots of personality. They tend to stay where you put them, which is nice. I'm a huge fan of rats (stay with me)! Pet rats also have a lot of personality, and are usually very gentle, but there is some training involved. You can also walk them on a harness.
Be very cautious with these around kids. A lot of them have Salmonella so strict hygiene is needed. They're better for kids who are eight and older. Leopard geckos, bearded dragons and corn snakes are the friendliest! Corn snakes are the easiest to care for and pretty docile. They do like to escape though.
All are great for kids who enjoy creepy crawlies because you need to feed the lizards crickets and mealworms, while the corn snakes enjoy mice (usually bought frozen). If you're buying live bugs for the reptiles you eat then you need to feed and maintain them as well.
The first thing Ted recommends is matching the dog's personality and exercise habits with the family. Are you looking for a couch potato or an active dog to go running with? Do you want a dog that does tricks or fetches a ball?
Golden retrievers and labs are amazing family pets and are popular for a reason. For people looking for smaller breeds, Shih Tzus and Lhasa Apsos have tons of personality and are really good with kids. Use caution with collies and other herding dogs. They tend to like to herd the kids around! Terriers have a ton of personality, but aren't always the best with children. A lot of giant breed dogs like mastiffs are amazing with kids... or at least your kids. They can be very protective.