Getting Kids to Help with Pet Care {At Any Age!}

This post has been sponsored by Apparent Insurance. All opinions are 100% our own.

Tale as old as time: You’re thinking about getting a family pet. You sit the children down to discuss responsibilities. Everyone nods enthusiastically. New pet is acquired and brought home to much fanfare. Flash forward six months, and who is doing all the work to care for said pet? Oh yeah, it’s totally YOU.

Nooooooo! We can’t let that happen again!

But it will require some consistent ground rules. And part of setting your family up for success is knowing what’s appropriate to expect from kids. It’ll help you assign pet care responsibilities that make sense. Apparent Insurance is here to help break it down by age group.

apparent insurancePet Responsibilities for Kids Under 5

You’ll want to supervise all pet interactions and chores for your youngest kiddos (for pet and child safety alike).

  • include them in leash-walking, grooming, and replenishing food and water (with dogs, make sure you are the one giving the food at first, until the dog learns not to guard it)
  • let them help with maintenance like cleaning a fishbowl or lining a cage with newspaper and/or shavings
  • have them find and put away pet toys
  • model good behavior around pets and teach them that animals have feelings, too

Pet Responsibilities for Kids Ages 6 to 10

  • continue to involve them with everything listed above, plus bathing pets and picking up droppings (avoid having them clean litter boxes just yet though)
  • they can help teach tricks and commands
  • they can handle a small pet kept in their room (turtle, fish, hamster, etc.)

Pet Responsibilities for Kids Ages 11 and up

  • they can take care of pretty much anything! (unless you have a large dog)
  • have more nuanced discussions about the responsibility of pet ownership, keeping pets happy and healthy, animal shelters, etc.
  • take them to routine vet visits with you to demonstrate good pet care on a higher level

More Tips for Success with Pets

Make a list of all the responsibilities and discuss both their frequency and why they are important. Don’t assign something you feel your child might not be able to do well.

Notice and praise your kids for helping, especially when they do it without being asked.

Don’t make kids feel too guilty if they fall short of their responsibilities, because they may begin to resent your pet. That’s not what we want here.


Having a family pet is much more enjoyable when it’s all hands on deck. And sharing the workload teaches kids responsibility. We live for practical applications of life lessons!

Thanks to Apparent Insurance, the company designed by parents for parents, for bringing us this helpful info. Speaking of being a good, responsible pet owner, did you know Apparent offers injury coverage to make sure your pets are cared for after a car accident?

With Apparent Insurance, your family gets coverage for your pets at no extra cost! They’ve truly thought of everything. Have you made the switch to Apparent?

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Katie Lewis
Katie grew up in Dallas, went to SMU, and spent 10 post-college years in Austin, where she and her husband Mick welcomed Gemma in 2011 and Ryker in 2013. They all moved to central Fort Worth almost 4 years ago and have found it to be quite fun and a great place for kids. Katie is horrible at social media but will admit to a preference for her Twitter timeline these days. Favorite uses for her phone: reading library books and listening to comedy podcasts. Least favorite uses: making and receiving calls. She's forever down to watch any show that's British, supernatural, or on The CW. If you can quote Death Becomes Her, Big Business, or the 1987 Shelley Long flop Hello Again, please get in touch because you are most certainly kindred spirits.

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