Your Child’s First Pet

Family, Pets

Choosing your child’s first pet

‘Mu-ahhh-umm, Da-aaaa-ad, can we have a pet pleaeeese?”

It’s a refrain parents are oh-so-familiar with. And the request is usually fairly specific to either a dog or cat. But many of us don’t have the time/space/energy for one of those. It’s enough to keep the human-kids clothed, watered and fed – adding in a bounding fur-kid takes it to the next level!

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s a few reasons why you should consider getting a rabbit or guinea pig as your child’s first pet. The reasons for their first pet, rather than against. While your first instinct may be to say a blanket ‘no’ to any pet-related questions, think about the pro’s a pet offers your child.

They teach responsibility:

Kids quickly learn about how to be responsible if they’re involved in feeding, watering, caring for and playing with a pet.

They teach important social skills:

Many children struggle to empathise with others (which doesn’t make for great adults).
Pets allow them to develop this life skill along with compassion and nurturing skills.

They can be your child’s best mate:

Survey a few adults and at least a few will say their pet was their favourite companion growing up.
Children often consider their pet their ‘safe place’ – someone they can talk to without being judged or told they’re being silly.

Choosing to introduce a pet to your family is a big decision.

We get that. And getting the right fit for you is paramount to ensuring success. To help you out on that front, the following will give you a good idea of what’s required if you pick a rabbit or guinea pig as your child’s first pet (and we’re sure you’ll quickly see, it’s not as labour-intensive as you might think!).

It’s all about the scale

A smaller pet means less work. Less space, less food, less exercise, less upkeep. Guinea pigs definitely fit into this category and rabbits to a lesser extent (although when compared to a dog, they certainly do!).

Being on the tiny side means rabbits and guinea pigs are easier to look after which really helps when you want your kids to deliver ‘hands on’ care. Space-wise, both bunnies and guinea pigs only need a hutch; an enclosed structure with adequate ventilation. You can even get moveable ones to transfer from indoors to outdoors.

All hutches should have:

  • A fully enclosed section to protect pets from heat or cold (bunnies and guinea pigs are VERY susceptible to heatstroke so bring them indoors on hot days)
  • An activities area Ventilation made from mosquito-proof netting For rabbits, big enough space to perform 3 full length bounces and stand on their hind-paws
  • Is filled with hay or paper material (and changed regularly)
  • Has a litter tray as you can train them to use it (rabbits only)

Easy to feed

Both bunnies and guineas pigs are herbivores (an added bonus here is it may encourage your kids to eat their veggies too!). Guinea pigs need lots of vitamin-C enriching food – as they can’t produce their own – so think carrots, broccoli, cucumber, brussel sprouts, and even parsley or fresh grass. Rabbits enjoy eating hay grass and can have as much of it as they like. Get the good stuff though – it should look green, smell fresh, be prickle-free and not too dusty or dry. You can get commercial rabbit pellets, aim for something with at least 17% protein. Fruits are ok as treats for guinea pigs but your bunny may not like them as it’s not a natural part of their diet. And of course, it almost goes without saying that your pet needs a constant supply of fresh water.

Veterinary Care

Like all pets, your vet will help you ensure your pet – be it rabbit or guinea pig – has a long and healthy life. Here’s quick rundown of things to be aware of:


Bunnies teeth never stop growing so your vet will check for ‘overgrowth’. A good, healthy diet helps. As rabbits love to chew things, keep a close eye on them – bunnies and power cords don’t mix well!

Rabbits are highly susceptible to Calicivirus. It was first used to control wild rabbits but affects domestic ones just the same.
A vaccination is strongly encouraged.

This procedure prevents unwanted litters, aggressive/territorial behaviour and reproductive diseases common in female bunnies. It can be done from 4 months for boys and 6 months for girls.

The disease is caused by the Myxoma virus and is spread to rabbits via mosquito bites and rabbit fleas. Death usually occurs within 2 weeks in over 95% of cases. There’s no vaccine or treatment so preventing bites is the best form of action.
Use insect-proof netting, mozzie coils, citronella and get rid of all stagnant water.

Guinea Pigs

These little ones are also prone to overgrown teeth so get ‘em checked. They like to chew too so ensure they do so safely.

You can desex guinea pigs at 5 – 6 months of age.

Worming & Mites:
Give them a small animal worming treatment every 3 months. Check regularly for fur, ear and lice mites. Your vet can help you here. Mite and lice sprays can be used in minor outbreaks but bigger ones require a vet trip.

So there’s a bunch of reasons why guinea pigs and rabbits make such great first pets. And maybe now you can answer that infernal question ‘Can I have a pet pleeeeeeease?’ with a resounding ‘yes’. Cue – screams of glee.

How to enter

Simply share a photo on your Facebook page of your dog rugged up for winter or enjoying the winter sunshine and use the hashtag relevant to your state.

What you can win

There will be three prizes in total – one for QLD entrants and two prizes for entrants from VIC, NSW and TAS combined prize. Each prize includes a winter pet pack to the value of $100.

Click on your state to reveal the hashtag you need to use to enter!

QLD Residents

Share a photo of your dog enjoying the winter sunshine or snoozing in their favourite winter clothes and tag #furlifevetQLD

VIC Residents

Share a photo of your dog rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes and tag #furlifevetVIC

NSW Residents

Share a photo of your dog rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes and tag #furlifevetNSW

TAS Residents

Share a photo of your dog rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes and tag #furlifevetTAS

Terms & Conditions

Information on how to enter and prizes form part of these conditions. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these conditions. Entries must comply with these conditions to be valid.

Entry is open to Australian residents that meet the competition requirements outlined below during the Competition period 1 June 2022 – 31 August 2022. Employees and their immediate families of the Promoter and its agencies associated with this competition are ineligible to enter.

To enter, each entrant must, during the Entry Period, upload a photo of their pet rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes to social media (on their personal profile) and use the hashtag corresponding to the state they are in (e.g. #furlifevetVIC, #furlifevetNSW, #furlifevetQLD, #furlifevetTAS).

Winner of the competition will be determined by:

  1. Appropriate photo uploaded (photo of their pet rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes to social media (on their personal profile)
  2. Relevant hashtag used (state residing in: #furlifevetVIC, #furlifevetNSW, #furlifevetQLD, #furlifevetTAS)
  3. Number of likes (photo with highest number of likes at end of competition period with all other criteria completed will win)

The competition will close for entries Wednesday, 31 August 2022 at 12:00pm [AEST]. Failure to meet any of the competition requirements will deem entry invalid and will not be eligible to win.

There will be three prizes in total – one for QLD entrants and two prizes for entrants from VIC, NSW and TAS combined.


Competition requirements:

Entrants must be a current client of a participating Apiam/Fur Life Vet clinic.

Entries must be received by the Promoter during the Entry Period. Entries received after 12:00pm [AEST] 31 August 2022 not be accepted.

The competition commences at 00:01 [AEST] on 01/06/2022 and closes at 12:00 [AEDT] 31/08/2022.

Queensland prize includes a pet pack to the value of $100.00.

Victorian, New South Wales, and Tasmanian prize includes two separate pet packs to the value of $100.00.

All taxes (excluding GST) which may be payable as a consequence of receiving a prize are the sole responsibility of the winner.

The Prize is not transferable and is not redeemable for cash.

The Promoter assumes no responsibility for any failure to receive an entry or for inaccurate information or for any loss, damage or injury as a result of technical or telecommunications problems, including security breaches. If such problems arise, then the Promoter may modify, cancel, terminate or suspend the competition.

If the prize becomes unavailable for reasons beyond the Promoter’s control, the Promoter may substitute a prize of equal or greater value.

The winner will be notified by email on or by 10/09/2022.

Entrants consent to the Promoter using their name, images submitted, pets name, comment, and/or voice in the event that they are a winner in any media for an unlimited period of time without remuneration for the purpose of promoting this competition (including any outcome), as well as any other communications outside of this competition, and/or promoting any products manufactured, distributed and/or supplied by the Promoter. If you are not willing for these uses or disclosures to occur you cannot participate in the competition.

Further, entrants agree that the Promoter has an unrestricted, irrevocable, transferable, divisible right and licence to use and modify their entry for the purposes of the Promoter’s business including for promotional purposes without the payment of any further fee or compensation.

If requested by the Promoter, the entrant agrees to sign any further documentation required by the Promoter to give effect to this arrangement. To the extent permitted by law, entrants unconditionally and irrevocably consent to any act or omission that would otherwise infringe any moral rights in their entry. Entries remain the property of the Promoter. Details from entries will be collected and used for the purposes of conducting this competition (which may include disclosure to third parties for the purpose of processing and conducting the competition) and for promotional purposes surrounding this competition. By entering this competition entrants consent to the use of their information as described and agree that the Promoter may use this information, or disclose it to other organisations that may use it, in any media for future promotional purposes without any further reference or payment to the entrant.

By entering this competition, entrants consent for the Promoter to use entrant’s name, email address, phone number which entrants submitted to enter for the purposes of administering and operating the competition. Entry is conditional on the Promoter acquiring the aforementioned information. All personal information collected by the Promoter will be handled by the Promoter in accordance with the Promoter’s privacy policy (PRIVACY) Entrants have the right to access their personal information, request correction of any errors and/or obtain a copy of the Promoter’s privacy policy by contacting getvetchecked@furlifevet.com.au.

The Promoter is Apiam Animal Health Pty Limited (ACN: 604 961 024) at 27-33 Piper Lane East Bendigo, 3550, Victoria, Australia.

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