Photograph: Courtesy Kharen Hill/Walt Disney/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

The best animal movies and pet movies for kids

Animal movies and pet movies are great for the whole crew—including all of your furry companions

By Rebecca Jennings, Allie Early, Dorkys Ramos and Danielle Valente

Our favorite animal movies and pet movies for kids definitely deserve two paws up! 

Grab some popcorn (bones or balls of yarn for your furry companions) and marathon these fun kids' moviesfamily comedy movies and Nickelodeon movies where animals are the shining stars. From classics like Old Yeller to new favorites such as The Secret Lives of Pets, these films will receive a bark of approval from the whole brood. 

You're bound to go on a few adventures, learn important lessons and find a lot to love with our go-to picks. If you're staying in, these animal movies for kids and pet movies make great ways to pass the time.  

Best animal movies and pet movies for kids

Photograph: Courtesy Mgm/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

1. Lassie Come Home (1943)

For some of us, Lassie was the first dog we ever wanted to adopt. In this 1943 classic set in Britain during the Depression, an 11-year-old Liz Taylor is paired with the lovable collie (the original Lassie was played by a male dog named Pal) until the family is forced to sell Lassie to a wealthy duke. Determined to return to her family, Lassie sets off on a dangerous journey to get back home. Rated G.

Courtesy Disney

2. Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Chances are you'll never look at a plate of pasta the same way after watching two adorable pups—Lady and Tramp—slurp the same noodle right up to their noses. (And we certainly can't blame the dogs for indulging in a romantic Italian dinner.) In this lovable story, Tramp comes across the beautiful cocker spaniel whose home life is turned upside down. It's up to the canine to get his new companion back where she belongs. Rated G.


Photograph: Courtesy Warner Bros/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

3. Old Yeller (1957)

Yet another example of how heartbreaking pet movies can be, Old Yeller remains an American classic. Set in post–Civil War Texas, the destitute Coates children find a big yellow dog in the cornfield and encounter black bears, boars and the ultimate coming-of-age experience when oldest son Travis is forced to put down his beloved pet after he’s bitten by a rabid wolf. Rated G.

Courtesy 101 Dalmations

4. 101 Dalmatians (1961)

Oh, Cruella de Vil. Is there a Disney villian more heinous than this wicked woman? She's surely trouble for two dalmatians who fall in love and have a litter of adorable puppies. This nefarious leading lady is determined to make coats out of the cute canines, but will she succeed? Rated G.


Courtesy Flipper

5. Flipper (1964)

Kids will love this fun tale of a boy and a dolphin—which proved popular enough to merit a movie sequel and launch a fondly remembered '60s TV series. Sandy (Luke Halpin), a young boy who lives in Florida with his family, nurses a dolphin back from injury and names him Flipper. Sandy’s father, fisherman Porter Ricks, dislikes the creature since it competes for fish in the local waters and distracts the neighborhood kids with its silly antics. Sandy must persuade his grouchy pop to let him keep his new-found pal as a pet. Not rated.

Courtesy Channel 5 Broadcasting

6. The Aristocats (1970)

Get ready: After watching this classic, kids will be saying everybody wants to be a cat! When Duchess and her three little kittens are on a mission to retrieve the hefty inheritance their owner left them all the while avoiding the claws of two hound dogs and their evil butler, it’s up to tomcat O’Malley and his savvy alleycat ways to help them return to their Parisian mansion safely. Not only will parents experience a bit of nostalgia here, but the jazzy soundtrack will have kids dancing along. Rated G

Photograph: Courtesy Paramount Pictures

7. Charlotte's Web (1973)

We can't resist the 1973 musical adaptation of this beloved children’s book. After little Fern saves Wilbur—the tiniest of his litter—from certain death, the curious piglet learns that there’s more danger up ahead. But with the help of the wise and talented spider Charlotte, Wilbur learns what it means to be brave. Rated G.

Courtesy The Fox & The Hound

8. The Fox and The Hound (1981)

Prepare yourself for a roller coaster of emotions with this Disney flick. Hearts will melt when a red fox named Tod and a hound dog named Copper become pals, despite their instincts. A nurturing widow takes in young orphan Tod and cares for him like a pet, while her gruff neighbor, Amos, does all he can to make Copper into a fierce hunter. As the critters grow up, things take a sad turn. How will they maintain their friendship? Rated G.

Photograph: Courtesy Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

9. The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1989)

This 1986 Japanese film was edited for American audiences (the original featured some less-than-kid-friendly scenes) and was released three years later. The English version is action-packed, includes two bears, a snake and, surprisingly, not a single human. Rated G.

Courtesy Beethoven

10. Beethoven (1992)

Who could possibly forget the massive St. Bernard and the comedic misadventures of his owners as they try to raise the slobbery Beethoven? Watch as an initially unwilling father slowly grows to love the family pet—but not before this monster of a furball shakes off his dirty coat inside the house. Beethoven reminds us what a chore raising a dog can actually be...but it is still so worth it. Rated PG.

Courtesy Free Willy

11. Free Willy (1993)



In this classic '90s flick, one young boy forms a friendship wtih an unlikely creature. Jesse has bounced from one foster home to another and got caught vandalizing a theme park. As punishment for his his bad deeds, the young boy must volunteer at the park, where he meets another orphan...sort of. Willy is a new orca who hasn't taken kindly to being separated from his family in the water, and when these two form a bond—and the owner senses their kinship—things take a turn for the worse, and it's up to Jesse to ensure Willy's safety. Rated PG.

Photograph: Courtesy Disney/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

12. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

What would your pets tell you if they could talk? This crew (Chance the bulldog, Shadow the golden retriever and Sassy the cat) would tell you that they’re on an epic journey to find their family, who seemingly abandoned them in San Fran. Luckily, this furry dream team has what it takes to overcome all kinds of challenges (think porcupines, mountain lions…even the pound!) to get where they belong. Rated G.

Photograph: Courtesy Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

13. Babe (1995)

Who knew that the story of a pig who wants to be a sheepdog would turn into one of the world’s most beloved children’s classics? A brilliant screenplay, impressive computer graphics and true heart won Babe an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture and the acclaim of critics and families—perhaps enough to turn even the most carnivorous of humans into vegetarians. That’ll do, pig. Rated G.

Photograph: Courtesy Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

14. Balto (1995)

After an outbreak of diphtheria makes a very sweet little girl sickly in Nome, Alaska, a dashing doggie outcast named Balto must step in to help save the day. As an unlikely addition to a local dogsledding team, he helps to deliver the antitoxin that saves her life (and uses scent rather than sight to lead his team home in brutal winter weather). The Disney rendition is based on a true story and a real dog named Balto! Rated G.

Photograph: Legacy Releasing/courtesy Everett Collection

15. Shiloh (1996)

This one is definitely on our list of favorite heartwarming puppy movies, and might make your kids beg for a beagle. Young boy, Marty Preston, finds a best friend in Shiloh, an adorable pup with an abusive owner, Judd. Marty strikes a deal with the old man, working for him in return for keeping the dog himself, but when Judd doesn't hold up his end of the deal, Marty's canine companion might be lost forever. Rated PG.

Photograph: Courtesy CHANNEL 5 BROADCASTING

16. Fly Away Home (1996)

When a little girl moves in with her father—with whom she has no relationship—after her mom dies, it takes a little while to settle in. When she saves some goose eggs from a nearby work site, she soon learns raising goslings may be more trouble than she'd originally expected. Rated PG.

Photograph: Courtesy Kharen Hill/Walt Disney/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

17. Air Bud (1997)

The wildly successful Air Bud was based on (and features in its starring role) the stray dog found in the Sierra Nevada mountains that became a national sensation. (He even played the role of Comet on an episode of Full House!) Air Bud’s unexpected talent helps 12-year-old Josh Framm break out of his shell to try out for the school basketball team. Rated PG.

Courtesy Best in Show

18. Best in Show (2000)

This funny animal film has grown a cult following for its quirky characters and plot. It's time to compete in the most elite event of the year—The Mayflower Dog Show—and the contestants will stop at nothing to win. Who will take home the ultimate prize? Rated PG-13.

Photograph: Courtesy Warner Bros/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

19. My Dog Skip (2000)

Willie would rather keep in nose buried in Huckleberry Finn than mingle with the other kids, especially the bullies who make his life torturous. That's when his mother decides it's time for a four-legged friend, much to her husband's dismay. When Willie and his new beagle skip form a friendship, things take a turn in a positive direction for the young boy. But don't leave the tissues too far away—there are moments that'll make you tear up and reach for your furry best friend. Rated PG. 

Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

20. Ice Age (2002)

If you thought NYC winters were rough, just be glad you're not hanging around this crew while they battle the Paleolithic ice age! There's frigid fun aplenty with a variety of films in the franchise. Rated PG. 


21. Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)

The beloved children’s novel about a lonely girl who moves in with her preacher father after being abandoned by her mother makes for a similarly sweet onscreen story, thanks in large part to a spunky Picardy Shepherd, who plays the title role. After finding Winn-Dixie at a supermarket, 10-year-old Opal learns how to meet friends and reconnect with her equally lonesome father. Rated PG.

Film Title: Happy Feet.
Photo Credit: courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

22. Happy Feet (2006)

Landing a soulmate is difficult, even if you're a penguin. While humans stick to dinner and coffee, the lovable birds try to win one another over through song. However, poor Muble can't carry a tune. How exactly is he going to be able to find his other half if his voice is enough to crack glass? Fortunately, Muble is super smooth on his feet and has some killer dance moves. Rated PG. 

Film Title: Kung Fu Panda
Courtesy 2008 DreamWorks Animation LLC.

23. Kung Fu Panda

Po the panda (voiced by Jack Black) has the chance to turn his dreams into a reality when his people are threatened by an evil snow leopard. He always wanted to be a kung fu master—now's the chance...but it might take some work. Don't forget to check out the rest of the films in the series! Rated PG

Courtesy Disney/Pixar

24. Ratatouille (2007)

In NYC, if patrons find a rat in a restaurant, you better believe that eatery is going to suffer a horrific fate. But in this Disney film, a young chef named Linguini elicits the help of a rat named Emy, who just so happens to be a culinary wiz. Things are certainly going to heat up in the kitchen when these two form an unlikely friendship. Rated G. 

Walt Disney Pictures

25. Bolt (2008)

In Truman Show fashion, Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) is the deluded super-hero star of a hit live-action children’s television show, replete with a snazzy lightning logo emblazoned on his flank. As Bolt is separated by accident from "his person," the equally innocent child-star Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus), and joined by an alley-cat and couch-potato Hamster, he learns to be a "real dog." Rated PG.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox/Regency Enterprises

26. Marley & Me (2008)

Marley & Me markets itself as a family-friendly comedy drama, but don’t be fooled: This movie will bring even the hardest hearts to full-blown sobs. You might want cut the cord halfway through, when the film hasn’t yet breached the subjects of miscarriage, postpartum depression and the slow decay of Marley’s health. That said, it still manages to cater to the comic sensibilities of kids, albeit through many tears. Rated PG.

Photograph: Courtesy Paramount Pictures

27. Hotel for Dogs (2009)

Siblings Andi and Bruce are forced to part ways with their pup Friday upon finding a foster home that has a no-pet policy. But this is no match for the duo. When faced with this predicament, the two decide to open up a pet-friendly hotel for Friday and his canine gang. It seems like a great idea...until neighbors become suspicious. Rated PG. 

Courtesy The Secret Life of Pets

28. The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

Think your four-legged friend waits patiently by the door for your arrival? Think again! This mischevious misdaventure follows a dog named Max, the king of the house, who is thrown for a loop when his owner brings home another pup, Duke. The two butt heads, largely thanks to Max's jealous tendencies. However, when the duo ends up on the streets of NYC will the "brothers" be able to stick together? A few of Max's friends join forces to help see the pups back to safety. Rated PG.


Columbia/Sony Pictures/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

29. Peter Rabbit (2018)

Beatrix Potter's beloved tale gets the modern-day treatment in this live-action flick that hops its way straight into hearts. While trying to fill a void his parents left behind, young Peter Rabbit takes charge of his bunny siblings (and cousin). Naturally, his plans for the crew lead straight to Mr. McGregor's gorgeous garden, which is filled to the brim with delicious vegetables. The curmudgeonly old fellow leaves this world, and his garden, behind to his nephew. It's a party for the rabbits and their crew until the new McGregor arrives. When he does, Peter goes head to tail with his new rival to win over the garden and the affection of his nearby neighbor, Bea. Rated PG. 

Photograph: Courtesy LD Entertainment/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

30. Dog Days (2018)

It's funny to see just how much power four-legged creatures have over humans. In Dog Days, watch as pups begin to interfere in their owners' lives, changing their career paths, romantic relationships and much more. This is a perfect film for your tweens and teens! Rated PG. 

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