Choosing a pet can be a very difficult decision, but it can lead to one of the most exciting days of your life – when you bring home your perfect pet. Many factors must be taken into consideration before choosing an animal to share your home with, including how much time you and your family have to spend with an animal, how much money can be spent each month on food and other expenses, and how much space is available for the animal to live.
Another important thing to consider is how much energy your pet has naturally. Some breeds of dogs were bred for activities such as herding; these breeds will require more energy than others and will need exercise daily, while other breeds may be content spending much of their days in your lap.
Some people prefer reptiles or birds. Successfully raising and caring for reptiles or birds can be very rewarding, but there is a lot of specific care that goes into caring for them. Do your research before purchasing to make sure it is a good fit for you.
Adopting from a shelter is a very rewarding decision, but can also leave a lot questions regarding the pet’s previous health care and temperament. A reputable rescue or shelter will perform temperament tests on the pet before adoption to determine whether the pet is suitable to be around children, cats or other pets. They will also make sure the pet is healthy, current on vaccinations and spayed or neutered before adoption.
A private breeder is generally more expensive, but is able provide records regarding breeding history and specific information regarding the breed you choose. A responsible breeder will have the pet current on vaccinations with the appropriate documentation, often including a health certificate signed by a veterinarian stating that the pet is healthy for sale (this is required in the state of Florida). They will also make sure that the pet is a good fit for your family before selling the pet to you. Buying a pet from a private breeder generally gives a certain reassurance of what to expect from your pet, regarding health and temperament, as breeders will often not breed pets that do not fall into certain standards.
Purchasing a pet from a pet store is another option that is available. A pet store will have a wide variety of pets for you to choose from, allowing you opportunity to decide which pet is the best for you. You may also see breeds that you had not thought about or heard of before, so it may open your eyes to what is out there.
The perfect pet is the pet that fits perfectly into your family and lifestyle. What works for one person may not work for another. Luckily, there are many choices to choose from! Never make a decision on which pet to choose based on an impulsive decision. Always make sure that you do plenty of research before deciding on your pet to make sure that you have the best fit for you.
Visit www.petchoice.org for more information.
Okay, so you’ve decided you want a pet. Begin by asking yourself some important questions about the responsibility, time, attention, effort and money you can commit, as well as your preferences for interacting with your pet.
Consider these questions:
- How much time can you spend with a pet each day?
- Do you have the time to take care of the animal’s daily care and feeding?
- Can you designate time to socialize and be a companion to your pet?
- Do you understand the effort required to pick up poop, clean cages, take care of illnesses and train new behaviors?
- Are you prepared for having another creature in your home permanently?
- If you rent, are pets permitted on your property by your landlord?
- What kind of space do you have for a pet?
- Will your preferred pet have enough space in your home when it reaches its adult size?
- Will there be enough room for it to exercise or play?
- Do you have the money to expend on the full spectrum of pet needs, including food, cages, litter, cleaning supplies, toys, veterinary care and possibly more?
- Can you handle a pet emergency – emotionally, physically and financially?
- How will a pet affect your other relationships?
- Do you accept that this pet will be part of your life for many years to come, even when your life circumstances may change?
- Do you have other pets now?
- How will they react to a new animal in the house?
- If you have children, is your choice of pet age-appropriate?
- And are you prepared to supervise your kids’ contact with the pet every day?
- Do you want a pet that is cuddly and interactive, or do you prefer one that lives fairly independently?
- Do you need a pet that can be outdoors with you, or one that remains indoors at all times?
- Are a number of pet sitting alternatives available to you when you are traveling or unable to make it home?
- Are there other people living on the premises who might have objections to animal noises?
When you’ve clarified your answers, you should have a clearer picture of the type of animal that best matches your needs and preferences. Next, you’ll want to do some additional research to select the specific breed or species. Pay attention to important facts like the pet’s expected life span; its projected adult size; the space and resources it needs to live, eat, sleep and exercise; any special needs for caring for the pet; and any common illnesses. Also, be sure the pet you select is legal in your locality, state and the country. If you are found with an illegal pet, the pet will be seized and likely euthanized. The more research you conduct, the more likely you – and your family – will be able to choose a pet that fits.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s time to start meeting the real candidates. Decide whether you want to purchase from a breeder or a shelter. Don’t hurry. Take your time to play with the pets around people and other animals and, if possible, alone. Take a toy or two with you and see how each animal responds to you. Is the animal quick to follow your lead or distracted? Does it respond to your voice? Does it exhibit fear? Also look closely at the animal to make sure it appears healthy. Often, if a pet is sick when you buy it, the situation will get worse, not better. Even if you feel that one particular animal may be right for you, keep on observing and examining other animals. After all, once you make the choice, there is no going back.
Here are some smart steps to start your relationship on the right path:
- Do your research. Make sure you know all about the pet’s needs, behaviors and life span before you finalize a selection. Remember, owning a pet isn’t just about your satisfaction – you have a responsibility to keep your pet safe, healthy and satisfied as well.
- Talk to current pet owners. This is particularly useful to understand the practical side of pet ownership such as the real costs of keeping the pet, dealing with difficult behaviors, and the location of the closest emergency clinic.
- Prepare a home for your pet before bringing it home. The transition to a new environment is very stressful for animals – to say nothing of humans! It will take days, and possibly weeks, for your pet to adjust. This isn’t the time to be fumbling without a prepared space for your pet to live, sleep, play, and eat. Right from the start, you’ll need to have your basic equipment in place, including a cage, bedding, litterbox, toys, and food. You may also need to do some pet-proofing of your home.
- Make an initial veterinary exam a priority. Whether your pet is an infant or older, and no matter how much you know about its history, take your pet for an initial veterinary visit as quickly as possible. The vet will conduct a thorough exam and do some important tests to make sure that your pet is healthy and has received (or willreceive) all required vaccinations. The vet can also identify any potential physical problems and answer any of your care questions. It is vital that you have this baseline established for your pet’s health and well-being.
- For families, discuss pet handling and responsibilities. At first, every pet is fun and cute. But it only takes a little time before the grind of daily care sets in. Discuss how you will share responsibility for your pet as a family. Decide which duties will be shared and how. Make sure that everyone understands what to expect while the animal adjusts to its new home and how to handle it safely. Also, make sure that everyone understands what to do in an emergency.
By doing your research, choosing wisely and preparing for pet ownership, you’ll find a pet that makes a great addition to your life and your family for years to come.