Pets can be amazing friends and companions but they are also big responsibilities, so it is important to scrutinize what pet is right for you. Here are a few tips to consider before choosing the right pets:
Time: How much time do you have to devote to your pet? All pets (besides the adorable pet rock) will require at least some amount of time to keep healthy and happy. Cats are generally more independent than dogs, for example, so if you have very little on your hands, you may want to get a cat. However, if you have just enough time to keep the cat fed, you may want to get a fish (or pet rock) or hold off on getting a pet all together.
You also need to consider how long the pet will live. Most pets will live at least 10 years and some tortoises or parrots can live as long or longer than you! So it is a good idea to plan ahead. If you won’t be able to care for a pet 5 years from now, hold off—thousands of pets are abandoned every year because owners lacked this foresight.
Cost: There are three basic costs to consider when deciding to buy pets: Initial Cost, First-Year Cost, and Long-Term Cost. The Initial Cost is pretty straightforward—you pay the amount asked and get the pet, end of transaction. When budgeting for a pet, make sure you can afford the initial cost, but also understand that after you buy a pet, you are not finished paying for the pet. The First-Year Cost is considered a separate cost here because it is generally the most costly year you will own the pet. Not only will you need to buy all the necessary accessories (cage, toys, leash, aquarium, etc), but if you are buying young pets, the vet bills will be especially high, as well as any needed training. After you get through the first year of ownership and the initial cost, it should be much easier to budget. One last tip is to be prepared for those unexpected “hidden” costs that can creep up from health problems or unforeseeable accidents. Some advocate pet insurance since it helps smooth the healthcare costs.
Safety: Obviously you want to choose an animal that is safe and if you are getting a more exotic and dangerous pet, make sure you have the proper licenses and documents, as well as the know-how to keep yourself, the pet, and anyone visiting you safe. If you have children or kids around often, you want to get kid-friendly pets that won’t do any harm to the kids…and in case you’ve never seen how a young child handles a rabbit, make sure the pets are safe from the kid!
If you plan to get a dog, you may also consider obedience training. This will teach your family and your pet the right steps to ensure team harmony and also increase the odds of being safe.
Space: Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the animal’s needs and we might selfishly keep a pet confined in a much smaller space than is recommended or required. Make sure you have the space for a pet before buying it. Also, make sure the pet you are interested in will be able to handle the space available in the living arrangements you’ll be providing–and that you’ll be able to handle the pet in that space, too.
Legality: Simply put, be darn sure the pet is legal to keep and own, locally and nationally. Know your state laws!
Baby or Adult?: Babies are cute…but they grow up. Often times, they grow up a lot! Many baby pets will also need potty training and require a lot more attention. If you can’t give the baby the needed attention, there is absolutely nothing wrong with adopting adult pets. Old dogs can learn new tricks and the generally still have a lot of love to give.
Here is a list of common types of pets to consider: dogs (friendly, needs lots of attention and exercise), cats (more dependent and need less attention/space), ferrets/guinea pigs/bunnies/hamsters/mice (can get messy but are kept contently in cage with wheel and minimal attention), fish (easy to care for but will need regular feeding and environment upkeep), lizards/frogs/turtles or birds (can be messy, require clean cage, long life-span), exotic pets like monkey, hedgehog or sugar glider (illegal in certain states, requires more research and time/money to care for correctly).
Pets bring a lot to our lives, so we hope sharing some of these considerations can help you choose a pet that will work for your lifestyle and also keep you and your pet happy for years to come!