By Online Vet Dr. Laci
When I asked once on our Facebook page how pet parents chose their pets, the overwhelming majority say that their pet chose them. While it certainly is important to have that “chemistry” and initial exciting spark about a pet that you are considering sharing your life with (potentially for close to 20 years for some pets), it is also wise to follow some guidelines in selecting a pet.
Seeking guidance before obtaining a new pet can prevent countless behavior and health problems in pets. There are so many things to consider! You must not only decide how to select the best pet for your household, but also prepare in advance for the new arrival. Ask a vet or pet expert and they will tell you topics to consider include the species, breed, age, and sex of the pet, where to obtain the pet (rescue or breeder, just not a puppy mill or pet store please!) and how the kennel, breeder, and pets can best be assessed. As for the “homework” you must do before Fido or Fluffy arrives, you should decide where the pet will be housed, what type of bedding, feeding, training, exercise, scheduling, veterinary care, and if pet insurance is something you are interested in.
The lifespan of pets:
Pet Average Lifespan Cats 14 years or more Dogs 10 years or more Goldfish 2 years or more Birds 7 to 80 years Guinea Pigs, Hamsters, Mice 2 to 10 years Reptiles 2 to 20 years
What pet might be best for my family?
The primary reason that pet owners might one day need to relinquish their pets is because of the unrealistic expectations that they had when they first entered into pet ownership—too much time, too many accidents, restricting your spontaneous schedule, etc. Therefore, before getting started, be certain that you understand the time, commitment and expense that you will be undertaking over the next 15 to 20 years. While pet ownership has innumerable benefits, it also comes with tremendous responsibilities.
The first decision therefore is whether a pet is right for you, and if so which type of pet. For example, dogs require a level of training, exercise, housetraining, and outdoor activities that are not required by most cats (there are some cats that do require those things, such as our Siamese Rigby.) Dogs will need to develop proper social skills with each new animal or person that they meet, and may present a greater challenge for supervision and preventing household damage, than do most cats. On the other hand, cats that live indoors will need to take their entire repertoire of behaviors that they might normally do outdoors and have them directed toward appropriate indoor outlets (for elimination, scratching, climbing, perching, playing and feeding/hunting).
Learn about normal behavior, the principles of reward based training, the time, effort, and expense that will be needed for training and care, and the housing, feeding, grooming, and health care requirements of each species and breed that you might be considering. Also consider your support system, or financial funds available to buy one, during times of illness or vacation to insure that you will have sufficient care for your pet. Finally, ask a vet to get vet advice about obtaining a pet that is suitable for your home, family and lifestyle, and as to how to prepare your home for the arrival of your new pet.