What's the best pet for your family?

From man's best friend to a homely hamster, we look at the pros and cons of common pets and which one your child's most likely to click with.

Getting a family pet can often feel like the final piece to your puzzle. You'll wonder what life was like before the little bundle of fur came into your life to cuddle, play and be a little buddy to your little ones.

But it's essential to remember this is a big emotional and practical commitment, often for many years, and deciding what pet is right for your child and your family is an important decision.

Pets need a lot of love and care, you can't just drop them when you're bored - and, realistically, your child's promises of helping you look after them will fall by the wayside pretty quickly, so know that it will fall to the adults of the house.

So think carefully, do lots of research, and consider the expenses involved in keeping them, feeding them, and paying the vet should they get sick or injured.

The one negative trait nearly all pets have is they can get a bit stinky. However, this is easily solved thanks to the Febreze Pet Odour Eliminator Collection.

Febreze doesn't just mask odours, it eliminates them, so you can blitz pet pongs with Air Effects, freshen up your sofa with the Fabric Refresher, and keep things sweet with an Ambi-Pur 3volution Plug-in. And you can even get rid of post-dog walk smells in your car with the Febreze Car Refresher.

So with that out of the way, here's what else to consider when picking your perfect pet...

A dog

Obviously what breed you choose affects your pet experience. You might not feel comfortable having a big dog around young children, although many are super friendly and docile, so just make sure you do lots of research into the breed you want and always supervise young children around animals.

Be careful where you're buying from, too: dogs from puppy farms can be cruelly over-bred leading to inherited illnesses that get very expensive to deal with. Always ask to see the puppies with their mum, and don't buy them too young, as they need time to get socialised.


Dogs aren't called 'a man's best friend' for nothing. They're full of personality and energy, and they're fiercely loyal. Your child will have a friend for years.


Dogs are a high-maintenance pet. You could feel like you have an extra child as you have to consider them getting looked after if you go away, or if places you visit are dog-friendly.

They need daily walks, make a lot of mess (which you have to pick up!), can moult around the house and love nothing more than getting wet and muddy and - in the process - stinky. But, of course, you can easily eliminate the latter issue with the Febreze Pet Collection.

Best for your child if...

They're active, playful and mischievous - and would love a partner in crime.

A cat

A cat can be the perfect middle-ground pet, as they are playful and fun, but can pretty much take care of themselves.


Cats have a reputation for being snooty and aloof, and while this can be a part of their personality (and arguably quite an entertaining one), if they're shown love and affection, cats can be the friendliest pets in town.

They love nothing more than a chilled-out cuddle, snuggling on your lap, purring contentedly. Then the next minute they're running around chasing a light/fly/piece of string like a mad thing.

They're also very low-maintenance, as they take themselves out for exercise and to go to the toilet, plus they stay clean by washing themselves.


Cats pick and choose when they want to play or cuddle, which can be frustrating for a young child. Plus there is a risk a cat will lash out if you try to pick them up when they don't want to be bothered, and their claws can hurt.

You also won't get the same unconditional loyalty as from a dog - while cats do love their humans, according to recent research, they show it in a different way, which might not appeal to everyone.

Best for your child if...

They are a nurturing, patient type who isn't too sensitive or quick to have tantrums if they don't get their way.


Not quite ready for the commitment of a dog or cat? A rabbit could be the right pet for your family.


Rabbits are friendly and sociable animals, so they're great for a twice-daily play and a stroke, but then are happy to be left alone again to sleep, eat and lollop about.


It's much better to keep rabbits indoors, so you will need a large cage and will need to regularly clear out the straw. Rabbits are one of the most neglected pets in the country, because there's a misconception that they can just be left in a hutch all day, whereas they actually need grooming and an enriched environment. They are much happier in a pair, as they're sociable animals and can get lonely.

While they like attention, rabbits aren't keen on being held, so they're not great for anyone who likes a furry cuddle, plus they are quiet and can get very stressed and nervous easily.

Best for your child if...

They are gentle and not too loud or lively, which could upset a timid rabbit. Teenagers are more likely to appreciate their needs.

Hamster or gerbil

If a rabbit still feels like too much work (and for eight to 12 years at that), how about a hamster or gerbil?


Hamsters and gerbils are ideal for busy families who are out and about during the day as that's when they sleep, so they're happy to be left in the peace and quiet.

They're pretty low maintenance as they're as content running on their wheel and playing in their cage as they are scurrying around in an exercise ball or nibbling on a chunk of veg while they climb all over you.

Plus they're super cute and the worse they can do is give you a little nibble when they feel threatened - or mistake your finger for a carrot.


As they're nocturnal, you might be kept awake by the sound of them scurrying around in their cage, or hearing the odd squeak. Plus, like a rabbit, if you don't change their bedding regularly, they can start to pong.

Hamsters and gerbils also have a short life span of only one to three years, so you will need to prepare yourself for that difficult talk when little Hammy goes to stay on the magical farm in the sky...

Best for your child if...

They are on the quiet side and would like a room buddy they can chat to and care for.

Do you have a family pet? Share what's great (and not-so great!) about your furry friend in the comments section below.