There are many options for adding a pet to your household, including purchasing from a responsible breeder, getting a pet from a rescue organization, and adopting from a local shelter. This article is part of a series providing information on each of the above options, as well as an overview of how to select the right pet for your home/family.
(Note: I do not recommend buying an animal from a pet store as animals in pet stores are basically guaranteed to come from puppy mills or other inhumane breeding operations, regardless of what the staff at the store may claim. The best way to put animal mills out of business is to deprive them of profits.)
Today’s topic is selecting the right pet for your home.
The last three installments of this article discussed different ways to get a pet. This installment discusses how to select a pet that will fit in well with your family and your home.
The key to picking the right pet for your home is understanding both the needs of your family and the needs of the type of pet you are considering. Many people who want a pet have a specific type of pet in mind, but the reality of a given type of pet is often different from what the media shows us. Assess what your home is able to provide for a pet, and then take the time to research the type of animal you are considering.
Here are some questions that may help you make the right decision:
What kind of pet do you need?
- What kinds of animals are allowed where you live? Be sure to check federal, state, and local laws, as well as any applicable community regulations. Ferrets, for example, are outlawed in some areas.
- Why exactly do you want a pet? What do you expect from life with a pet?
- Do you want a pet that lives in your home, out in your yard, or in a remote location (such as a rented stable)?
- Does everyone in the family agree on the same type of pet? If not, why not?
- How much time do you and your family have for a pet?
- How much attention, exercise, and interaction can you and your family give a pet?
- How much time do you and your family have to train a pet?
- Does anyone in your family have allergies or phobias about a certain type of animal?
What does the pet need?
- How much money will it cost to maintain this pet, in terms of food, equipment, etc.?
- Can you afford routine veterinary care for this type or breed of animal, and are you prepared for other veterinary bills? It’s a good idea to research common ailments in the type or breed of animal you select so you know what to expect.
- What physical and mental needs does the animal have? For example, does it require a great deal of exercise? Does it need a lot of mental stimulation to keep from getting bored? Is it a social animal that craves company and will suffer if left alone?
- Does the animal need extensive grooming or have other physical requirements that require regular care?
- Does the animal shed, and if so, how much? Does the animal tend to cause allergic reactions?
- Is the animal good with children, strangers, other animals, etc.?
- Is the animal diurnal (active during the day) or nocturnal (active at night)? If it’s nocturnal, will its nighttime activities disturb your sleep?
- Does the animal tend to make a lot of noise, and if so, is that acceptable to you, your family, and your neighbors?
- These two lists of questions are obviously not exhaustive. The more questions you can ask and answer before choosing a pet, the better your odds of getting the right pet. Taking the time to look into and analyze different options is the best way to ensure you wind up with a pet that enriches your life.
NOTE: The next article will give a quick overview of a few types of animals.