Choosing The Best Pet For Your Family

You're thinking of adding a pet to your household...but you're not sure what kind to get. There are many important things to consider when adding an animal to the family. Today, our Lakewood vets discuss types of pets and the considerations for each.

Getting A New Pet

Caring for animal companions can be one of life's greatest joys. Oftentimes, our pets become another family member and we love and care for them deeply. Different types of animals come with different challenges and care requirements but they all have one thing in common: they rely on you to survive. So getting a pet must be a carefully thought out decision to ensure you have all the resources you need to properly care for your new friend.

Things To Consider

The first thing to consider when selecting a pet is if your lifestyle is compatible with providing proper care for them. If, for example, you are usually out of the house for most of the day, a dog is unlikely to be a good choice; they require a lot of attention, walks, and bathroom breaks. Instead, you might opt for a hamster or other animal that is more than capable of hanging out alone for 8-10 hours a day. Some other questions to ask yourself are:

  • Am I financially able to care for the pet I'm choosing? All pets come with a cost commitment, but some are more expensive than others. For example, a dog's vet bills are likely to run a higher bill than a goldfish tank setup and fish food.
  • What is a good match for my personality? If you're outgoing and extroverted a dog makes a great pet as they tend to be quite outgoing themselves. If you're an introvert you might prefer the quieter companionship of a cat or rabbit.
  • What about allergies? If being around animal fur makes you sneeze, a reptile or fish might make a more suitable pet.
  • Can I handle the care requirements? Each type of pet has different needs. Dogs require a large time commitment but cats need to have their litter boxes changed, hamsters and guinea pigs need their cages cleaned regularly, and reptiles might require a diet that makes some people squeamish (like bugs and mice). Make sure you're committed to the care requirements of whatever pet you choose.

Choosing a pet is not always as simple as checking off a few mental boxes. Maybe you think that a dog would make a perfect pet for you, but it turns out that a rabbit or a bird is your animal soulmate. Keep an open mind and be sure to do your research and you'll end up with the perfect pet for you and your family.

If You're Considering A Dog

Choosing a dog starts with considering a breed that will suit your home and lifestyle. Look up information about the breed's general temperament (but remember that all animals have their own personalities as well). Some dogs are calm and content to sit at your feet all day while others can be bold and boisterous. Size should factor in as well. If you live in a small apartment a smaller dog is probably a better choice. Large dogs need ample room to run and exercise.

Keep In Mind: Registering with a license, training, taking them out on walks, and providing the proper food, grooming, and veterinarian care.

If You're Considering A Cat

Cats can be amazing pets! They are often playful and affectionate – but just like dogs, they will each have their own distinct personality. Cats are fairly low-maintenance pets once they're fully grown. Cats, however, are known to scratch (and sometimes ruin) furniture, so you will have to be sure to carefully trim their nails (if they allow it!) and provide multiple scratching posts or scratching pads to help with this problem.

Keep In Mind: Changing the litter box, providing proper food and stimulation (toys, scratching posts), nail care, and veterinarian care.

If You're Considering A Bird

If you're keen on having a pet bird, choose carefully. Some are more suited to human companions than others, and some are not suited to indoor life at all. Budgies are a popular choice because they can be quite affectionate and enjoy handling while cockatiels can be trained to talk and even perform tricks. Keep your bird's cage clean with food and water bowls replenished daily. The cage should suit your birds' adult size-they need to be able to flap their wings without touching the sides of the cage.

Keep In Mind: Cleaning the cage, noise, commitment to ownership (some birds can live to be 100 years old), and veterinarian care.

If You're Considering A Fish

While fish are not to be cuddled or handled, they are beautiful to watch and fulfilling to care for. They also require less care than some other pets do, but their needs can vary greatly depending on the species of fish. The main factor to consider when getting a fish is that you will have to keep their tank clean. Some fish are predatory towards others so if you're considering getting multiple fish be sure to do your research and speak to the pet store for more information on which types of fish get along well.

Keep In Mind: Proper nutrition, tank cleaning.

If You're Considering A Rabbit

Rabbits can be quite loving and intelligent. They are also sociable and do best when they have a companion rabbit rather than being on their own (just be sure to get two females or two males to avoid a situation where you have more pet rabbits than you'd like!) Proper care for rabbits includes access to a litter box, a food bowl and water bottle, and clean bedding. Bedding should be made of non-toxic materials like recycled newspaper or aspen wood.

Keep In Mind: Cleaning their cage regularly (including changing bedding), appropriate companions, proper nutrition, supervision at all times when they are outside of their cage.

If You're Considering A Hamster Or Guinea Pig

Hamsters and guinea pigs are small mammals that can be great pets for older children, and can be acclimated to being gently handled and can even grow if they've been socialized from a young age. 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.

Keep In Mind: Regular cage cleaning (including clean bedding), 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.

Our Lakewood veterinary clinic offers a wide range of services for cats and dogs in Lakewood. Contact us today for more information or to book an appointment.