How to Choose the Right Pet for You

Jan 2, 2020   Tracey Aston   Health & Wellness

You've decided you want furry companionship and a new best friend. That's great! Finding the right pet for you is the best possible start to this lifelong friendship. When choosing a pet, there are several factors to consider.

Foremost, you must decide on what type of pet. Are you looking for a dog or cat, or maybe a pint sized pet such as ferret, rabbit, mouse, hamster or guinea pig or maybe you think a feathered friend is best for you.  Every pet will have basic needs such as food, water, exercise and grooming, but the type of pet you choose will determine their needs.  By far, dogs and cats are the most popular companion pet and will require socialization, veterinary care, exercise, training and proper nutrition and care. Dogs and cats require the most interaction and care. Small animals are more independent and won't require as much socialization and family time but still need basic care. Small animals often also have the shortest lifespan.  Birds need basic care as well as training and some birds can be taught tricks and even to speak! When choosing a small animal or bird as a pet, be aware not all veterinary practices will see small animals and they may require a specialized veterinarian trained in their care.

When choosing your new pet consider where you live, how much space you have and how much time you can commit to a new pet. If you live in an apartment, is there size or breed restrictions? Will there be an extra cost? Once grown, a Samoyed or Great Dane may not be the best fit for a small city apartment.  That antique tiffany lamp collection won't last long sitting out with an energetic kitten bouncing around. Young animals have a ton of energy and will require training, housebreaking and plenty of exercise. Will your schedule allow you the time a young pet requires?  Will you be available to let a pet out of their crate for potty breaks? Will you want to take long walks after putting in a full day of work? Dogs and cats especially crave human interaction and will want to spend time with their family members, whether through play, training or just cuddling on the couch. Do you have that extra time during the day?

While all animals are individuals and will have their own personalities, the breed and age of the animal you choose can have a lot to do with their exercise needs, nutrition and grooming. A young puppy or kitten will need more training and exercise than a senior pet. A pug may be more than happy to spend the afternoon cuddling away on the couch, while a Labrador or Border Collie will quickly become bored with a sedentary lifestyle. On the flip side of the coin, a bulldog or basset hound isn't likely to be interested in being your new running partner.  

All pets will require a grooming routine, including bathing – yes, cats, too – and brushing.  All dogs shed, it's a myth that poodles and doodles don't shed. Some breeds shed more than others and some are fine with a simple brushing but other pets will require a trip to the groomers to keep up their appearance.  Golden retrievers and German Shepherds shed a lot, but a Labrador or beagle won't shed as much and poodles will need haircuts. We don't recommend ever shaving a pet's coat, as the coat regulates a body's body temperature and shaving can damage of pets' skin. In addition to bathing and brushing, pets require nail care. Our blog post Nail Care for Dogs and Cats provides tips to proper nail care for your pets.

All pets require proper care and proper care costs money. Will you have the available income for yearly wellness checks, proper food, grooming, toys, leashes, harnesses and seat belts? What if the pet is injured or develops an illness? Pet health insurance will help cover the cost of some illnesses but not medications or diagnostic testing. Some pet parents put aside a certain amount each month for an emergency fund for their pet. Having a pet doesn't require one to be wealthy, but it doesn't require the income for constant care.

Pets have different lifespans, ranging from a year or two for mice to 12-15 years for dogs, 20 years for cats and some birds can live upwards of 80 years! Pets are a lifetime commitment and will have changing needs throughout their lifetimes.  Make sure you are ready for a lifetime commitment with the pet you choose.

Having a pet is a wonderful addition to your life and pets make excellent companions and best friends but understanding your own lifestyle and needs can help you choose the right pet for you, setting you both up for the best chance of a long life together. 

 
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