Children often have a very close relationship to their pets. In fact, they may be more likely to turn to their pets than to their peers when they find themselves in a crisis, and more kids in the US live with pets than fathers. When your pet gets sick and has to stay at an animal hospital, your child is likely to want to see them as soon as possible, but you may grapple with whether that would be even more upsetting to the child. After all, seeing a pet sick or in distress is hard for even an adult. Here are some things you should weigh when deciding whether you should allow your child to visit a pet when they're in an animal hospital.
Consider the Rules of Visiting
Depending on the age of your child, behavior at the animal hospital may be a concern. If the animal hospital houses a lot of other animals in an area that the child can see, they may want to play with all of them or have a hard time focusing on visitation with their pet. If in doubt, talk to the veterinarian or manager of the animal hospital regarding rules of visitation to ensure that your child can comply.
Explain the Pet Will Be Different
Be sure to explain to the child that the companion animal will likely be different than they are used to experiencing. The pet may be receiving medication that causes them to sleep most of the time, or they may be sluggish on their own. Discuss whether the child is allowed to hold the pet and what they may do instead. They may be permitted to pet the animal but not pick them up. After you explain each aspect of the visit, quiz your child on what you've explained to make sure they understand. If they have a hard time agreeing to these conditions, it's best to put off the visit.
Visit the Animal Hospital by Yourself First
If you are still unsure about how well your child will handle the visit to the animal hospital, be sure to pay the hospital a visit by yourself first. Check out the current conditions of your pet and make sure that there is nothing that would be too upsetting for your child. If you're still not sure, you may explain the situation to your child and ask how well they think they'll handle it.
Finally, keep in mind that it's okay to ask for advice from your pediatrician or from your veterinarian. They may be able to provide insights on whether a child can appropriately handle the situation, and they may also offer suggestions for how to make it easier for both of you. Whatever you decide, be sure to share your own feelings about the situation with your child and encourage them to talk to you about their feelings. For more information, contact an animal hospital like Gulfport Veterinarian.