Welcoming a new pet into your household is an exciting time, and you can easily be swayed by the first adorable scruffy face you see. But, as with all major life decisions, it’s best not to rush into a big commitment. Depending on your pet’s species, you may have a lifetime companion who outlives you, so consider a multitude of factors before choosing your new best friend. Although you likely want to bring home a new pet quickly, pause for a moment, and ask yourself the following six questions when starting the search for your next family member, whether furred, scaled, feathered, or finned.
#1: Do I need to consider any pet allergies?
Whether you have a full household, or have started a new relationship, consider potential health issues that may arise when bringing home a furry pet. Allergies to cats, which affect one in five adults worldwide, are the most common animal-origin allergies in people. Fortunately for cat lovers who are also allergic, Purina has recently developed a feline diet designed to reduce the allergic response in people. But, for people with severe allergic reactions to pet dander, you may need to consider a pet who is scaled, feathered, or finned, to keep your family healthy.
#2: How much space do I have for a pet?
Before choosing your perfect pet, consider the space needed for housing and exercise. If you call a studio apartment home, an Irish wolfhound will likely take up half your available floor space, but a cat would be an ideal companion. Although not often considered, many fish and reptile species require large spaces to remain happy and healthy, so don’t automatically assume fish or snakes will thrive in a small habitat. Research your chosen species thoroughly to determine how large your pet can grow, and ensure you have ample room.
#3: How much time can I devote to a pet?
Some pets are much more social than others, and require extensive social interaction to maintain their mental health. If you are busy with work, traveling, family, friends, and hobbies outside the home, a dog is not your best choice—consider a fish instead. But, if your large household always has someone at home, an adoring pooch would make an ideal companion.
#4: How much can I budget for a pet?
The larger or more exotic your pet, the higher the cost of care. While a parakeet may be relatively inexpensive to house, feed, and care for, a macaw will cost significantly more. Keep in mind that as the household’s adult, you will have to pony up for expenses, no matter how much your young daughter claims she’ll chip in for her horse’s care. As the primary caretaker, decide how much you can budget for a pet’s care, including housing, feeding, training, and veterinary care.
#5: Would I prefer a young or older pet?
There’s no question about it—puppies and kittens are adorable, and some people may say baby snakes have a cuteness factor, too. But, young pets often require substantially more work than healthy adults. Consider a 2-month-old puppy versus a 2-year-old adult dog. Ideally, the dog will already be house- and crate-trained, know how to walk on a leash, and have several tricks nailed down. A puppy will need to be taken outside innumerable times while house-training, including during the night, and may howl and whine while in her kennel—not to mention the need for constant supervision to ensure your home is not destroyed during her teething phase. While resisting a cute puppy or kitten face may be difficult, consider the benefits of an older pet before making a decision.
#6: Why do I want a pet?
Most people say they want a pet for companionship, but there are many reasons to welcome an animal into your home. When deciding which species is your best family fit, consider the reason why you may want a pet, such as:
- Personal protection, or a property-guarding companion
- Active companion for hiking, camping, or traveling
- Relaxing companion, to pet or watch
- Intelligent companion, to train and teach tricks
- Sporting companion, to compete in events and shows
- Family companion to enjoy socialization
Bringing a new pet home is a big decision, so decide first why you want a pet. If you want an animal companion to compete in sporting events, choose a dog for agility eventing, or a horse for cross-country trials. If you’d prefer a pet to provide quiet companionship, consider a mellow lap-cat, or a beautiful fish. No matter what you want in a pet, there is the perfect species for you and your family.
Although we hope to never meet your new pet in an emergency situation, we are always here to provide treatment and specialized care for your new pal—give us a call.