You (or you and your family) have decided to get a pet. That is a great first step. Of course, many variables remain. For instance, what kind of pet should you get? Here’s a guide on ensuring the right match.
Get Acquainted With Many Different Kinds of Pets and Animals
Each animal is different, but you can pick up quite a bit from spending time with dogs (and specific breeds of dogs), cats, rabbits, ferrets, fish, and so on. If you are open to the idea of reptiles as pets, see if any of your friends have them. Check out a reptile zoo, too. You may even see a two headed snake. You’ll definitely get a picture of the variety of reptiles that exist and the requirements to care properly for them.
Ask Why You Want the Pet
Common reasons people get pets are for companionship, exercise, and socialization. Knowing your goals helps you get the right pet.
For instance, if you have only a vague idea you want a pet and do not identify why, then you might end up with a cat. That could be the wrong choice if your actual goal is to exercise outdoors.
A dog would be more appropriate for that, with some breeds being better than others. At the same time, some cats can be leash-trained or taken on walks in outdoor cat carriers. If you do not have a lot of time for a pet but desire one for exercise, a cat could work if you’re able to invest the time and money to train the pet for hiking and get the appropriate gear.
Assess Your Schedule and the Time You Would Be Able to Spend With the Pet
Some pets require more attention than others. Dogs generally are more social and demanding than cats, for example. Before you choose a pet, review your schedule, and be realistic about how available you are (even if you work from home). Questions to ask include these:
- How much am I out of the house?
- How often do I travel (including overnights)? How often could I bring a pet with me?
- Do I have the budget to pay for daycare, pet sitters, dog walkers, etc.?
- Do I live with others (spouse, parents, etc.) who are able and willing to care for the pet when I am gone?
- Am I OK with clawed sofas, chewed cushions, or other types of destruction while I am out?
- Do I want a pet I can take everywhere with me?
Run the Numbers and Add a Cushion to Your Budget
Pets are financial commitments, one reason you should not buy an animal on impulse. Calculate the pet’s life expectancy and the sums for regular, preventive care, unexpected vet bills, vaccinations, food, toys, gear, licenses, apartment security deposits, pet insurance, and other costs. Then add a couple of hundred dollars on top of your budget per year just to be safe.
Go With Reputable Breeders if You Do Not Get a Rescue Pet
Have your vet or breed club give you the names of reputable, responsible breeders. Breeders should have paperwork such as the pet’s medical history, health screening, and pedigree registration. Meet your prospective pet’s parents and siblings to observe their behavior, temperament, and health. Ask whether the parents and any of their offspring have health problems or inherited diseases.
Avoid getting pets that have grown up in kennels because they likely have not been socialized properly. It’s smart to ask breeders for their vet’s contact information so you can confirm how a
pet was reared. If breeders refuse you these details, that is a red flag. Get a pet from another breeder.
Other places to avoid are online breeders or those selling different types of animals. They are less likely to be invested in their animals’ well-being or could be puppy mills.
Consider a Rescue Pet
Getting a rescue pet confers many advantages. For instance, personnel at the shelter or rescue organization can talk with you about the pet’s personality, needs, and the type of home that is a good fit. You talk about your lifestyle, and the staffers can help make a good match.
Adult rescue pets can be excellent choices as long as they have been properly vetted. Their personalities are set, so you know what you are getting. You can still choose specific pet breeds from breed rescue groups if not from a shelter. Shelters offer excellent value compared with breeders, especially since you are getting a pet that is vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and microchipped.
Consider the Pros and Cons of Certain Pets for Children
Some people think hamsters, mice, puppies, and other small pets are great for children due to their size. However, hamsters and mice are truly small and wriggly. They can be hard to handle and easy to accidentally hurt. Some small pets are nocturnal as well. Rats are social and do generally make good pets for children, though.
Choosing a pet for yourself or your family is not always straightforward but can be if you’ve done your research. Familiarize yourself with the different types of pets, keep your schedule and budget in mind, and pad your budget a bit.