Helpful Hints for Selecting a Pet

The return of spring heralds a time of renewal and rebirth. As baby animals come forth into the world, visions of pet ownership dance in many people’s heads. The benefits of owning a pet are undeniable – pets can be wonderful, loving companions and provide comfort in our often stressful, busy lives.

However, there are many things to consider before buying or adopting a new pet. First take the time to decide if you are ready to make the commitment to care for a pet. Depending on the type of pet you choose you may be making a 15-year-plus commitment – not a decision to be made impulsively. Furthermore, not a decision to make for someone else – pets should not be given as gifts. Please keep this in mind with Easter just around the corner!

All pets, regardless of species or size, requires a commitment of time and attention. One of the best things you can do is to down with everyone who will be involved with the care of the pet and take a look at your schedules. What are your current commitments – write them down. Will there be enough time to exercise, train, play with and groom a dog, or to change the bird’s food and water?

General lifestyle is important as well. An active retriever may make a great match for active, outdoor people but may not be well-suited for people with a 12 hour work day. Do not make the mistake of thinking that an active dog will help to get you out more – this rarely works out for the person or the pet.

The suitability of the pet for everyone in the household should be carefully contemplated. Certain animals and certain breeds are better suited to children than others. The health status of all members of the family is important as well. Does anyone in the house have allergies or asthma?

Another important point is the space available in your home or apartment. Try to ensure that there will be ample room for your pet complete with accessories (toys, beds, cages, dishes). Also consider access to an exercise area especially if you are contemplating a large dog for a pet.

There are financial responsibilities that are part of owning a pet. There is the initial cost of the purchase or adoption of the pet. Then your pet will need food, dishes, toys, a kennel/cage and regular veterinary care (including spaying or neutering to prevent unwanted pregnancies). Make a list appropriate for the pet you are considering and then make some phone calls before you get your pet so that there are no surprises after the fact. Then figure out what type of pet would best fit your budget.

Once you’ve given serious thought to all of these factors, if you feel you are ready to have a loving pet companion in your life, you next need to arm yourself with information. Speak with experts in the pet care field – call your local veterinarian, shelter, breeder and pet store. Gather information on health and behavior issues and general care.

Finally, you can really start to narrow things down – do you want a kitten or would you rather give a mature cat from the shelter a second chance? Do you want a purebred or a mixed breed? Again the best way to make these decisions is by researching. Look into the different breeds – their traits, personalities, health concerns. Go to your local shelter, breeder or pet store. Make several trips before you make any decisions. Ask lots of questions about any pets you are considering. Learn as much as you can about the animal’s history and parents, personality, general obedience and activity level. Be sure to make a careful inspection of facilities when at the pet store or at the breeders and to ask for references. If you are looking at a puppy – there are many simple tests that can help to determine the personality of that puppy (watch for additional information in my next article).

Then at last the day you get to take your special friend home. While your careful planning is not a guarantee that you have THE perfect match, it does start you off on the right foot. Now it’s time to really get to know your pet – to help him adapt, learn and, if you chose a baby, to grow into a happy, healthy companion!!