So you're ready to commit to the responsibility of owning a pet, but you're not sure what kind to get. There are loads of things to consider when adding an animal to the family. Here, our Shane Veterinary Medical Center vets discuss types of pets and the rewards and challenges that come with each kind.
Choosing a New Pet
One of life's greatest pleasures is spending time with animals. Our pets quickly become integral members of our families, whom we adore and cherish. Different animals pose different challenges and require different levels of care, but they all have one thing in common: they rely on you to live. As a result, getting a pet should be a carefully considered decision to ensure that you have all of the resources necessary to properly care for your new companion.
A Few Things to Consider
When choosing a pet, the first thing to consider is whether the animal will fit into your family's lifestyle. A dog, for example, may not be a good fit if you are frequently out for the majority of the day because they require a lot of attention, walks, and bathroom breaks. Instead, you could get a cat that is more than capable of spending 8-10 hours a day alone. Other questions to consider include:
- Is it financially feasible for me to care for the pet I want? Every pet comes with a price tag, but some are more costly than others. A dog's vet bills, for example, are likely to be higher than a small goldfish tank and fish food.
- What is a good match for the personalities of my family members? A dog is a great pet for an outgoing and extroverted family because dogs are outgoing themselves. If your family is made up of introverts, a cat or rabbit might be the perfect companion.
- Do any of your family members have allergies? If being around pet fur makes you sneeze, a reptile might make a more suitable pet.
- Is your family up to the task of providing care? Each type of pet has distinct requirements and methods for meeting them. Cats need their litter boxes changed regularly, hamsters and guinea pigs need their cages cleaned regularly, and reptiles may require a diet that makes some people squeamish (like bugs and mice). Make sure you're prepared to meet the needs of whichever pet you choose.
Choosing a pet isn't always as simple as ticking a few boxes in your head. Perhaps you think a dog would be the ideal pet for your family, but it turns out that a rabbit or bird would be better. If you keep an open mind and do your homework, you'll find the ideal pet for you and your family.
Thinking About a Dog?
The process of selecting a dog begins with deciding on a breed that will fit into your home and lifestyle. Do some research on the temperament of the breed as a whole (but remember that all animals have their personalities as well). Some dogs are calm and content to sit at your feet all day, while others can be boisterous and bold. Size should also be considered. A smaller dog is probably a better choice if you live in a small apartment. Large dogs require a lot of space to run around and exercise.
Care requirements to consider: Registering with a license, training, taking them out on walks, and providing the proper food, grooming, and veterinarian care.
Considering a Cat?
Cats make excellent pets. They are frequently playful and affectionate but keep in mind that, like dogs, they each have their personality. Cats are low-maintenance pets once they reach adulthood. Cats, on the other hand, are known for scratching (and sometimes ruining) furniture, so keep their nails trimmed and provide scratching posts to help with this issue.
Care requirements to consider: Changing the litter box, providing proper food and stimulation (toys, scratching posts), nail care, and veterinarian care.
Perhaps a Bird Would Be Best?
If you want to keep a bird as a pet, do your research first; some birds are better suited to human companionship than others. Budgies are popular because they are affectionate and enjoy being handled, whereas cockatiels can be taught to speak and even perform tricks. Maintain a clean cage for your bird, with food and water bowls replenished daily. The cage should be large enough for your adult birds to flap their wings without touching the cage's sides.
Care requirements to consider: Cleaning the cage, noise, commitment to ownership (some birds can live to be 100 years old), and veterinarian care.
Wondering About Fish as Pets?
While fish are not cuddly pets, they can be quite lovely to watch swim around in their tank. They also need less attention than some other pets. The care requirements vary by fish species, but the most important factor to consider when purchasing a fish is that you will need to keep your tank clean. Some fish are predatory toward others, so if you're thinking about getting multiple fish, do your research and talk to the pet store about which types of fish get along well.
Care requirements to consider Proper nutrition and tank cleaning.
Thinking About Getting a Rabbit?
Rabbits are affectionate and intelligent creatures. They are also social creatures who thrive when they have a companion rabbit rather than being left alone (just make sure to get two females or two females to avoid having too many pet rabbits). Access to a litter box, a food bowl, and a water bottle, as well as clean bedding, are all essential for rabbit care. Non-toxic materials such as recycled newspaper or aspen wood should be used for bedding.
Care requirements to consider: Cleaning their cage regularly (including changing their bedding), companionship, proper nutrition, and supervision at all times when they are outside of their cage.
Maybe a Hamster or Guinea Pig Would Be Best?
Hamsters and guinea pigs are small animals that are great for older children, happy to be handled if they've been socialized from a young age and love to be snuggled gently. Both animals need cages and bedding with proper access to food and clean water. And like most pets, they also need toys and accessories-like wheels, chew toys, and tunnels to stimulate their minds. Guinea pigs require a larger, roomier cage than hamsters, and their cages should be cleaned daily. Other than the cleaning requirements, however, these are fairly low-maintenance pet options.
Care requirements to consider Regular cage cleaning (including clean bedding), and proper nutrition.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.