Almost every home is improved by having the right pet, but if you bring home a pet who does not fit your family’s lifestyle, the results can be disastrous for the pet and your family. Our team at Somerset Animal Hospital wants to help you choose the right pet by having you answer a few questions to elucidate the matter.
Question: How active do you expect your new pet to be?
Answer: Active — If you and your family enjoy active excursions and exciting exploits, you will likely want your pet to join in on the adventures. Consider getting a young, active dog who is fit and able to handle strenuous exercise. Labrador retrievers, Australian shepherds, border collies, and weimaraners are good choices for athletic dogs.
Moderately active — If your family prefers light exercise, you may consider adopting a cat or a more sedate dog breed, such as a bulldog, basset hound, or pug. You may also think about providing a home for an older pet.
Not active — If your family does not appreciate physical exercise, you may consider adopting a bird, a reptile, or a pocket pet, such as a gerbil, hamster, or guinea pig.
Q: How much time will you be able to devote to your pet?
A: As much time as possible — Dogs are social animals, and need frequent attention. They must be walked at least once a day, and can develop separation anxiety if left alone for too long. Sociable dog breeds include golden retrievers, poodles, beagles, and Saint Bernards.
Moderate time — Cats enjoy companionship at times, but they are self-sufficient and content to entertain themselves. They do not require multiple walks a day, and they tend to nap a lot. As long as you provide food, water, a litter box, and occasional playtime, they usually are happy. Small mammals, such as hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs, would also be a good choice if your family cannot spend much time with your new pet.
Not much time — First, consider whether you should adopt a pet. Every pet requires some attention and maintenance. Birds, fish, and reptiles tend to require the least amount of time, but they should not be neglected.
Q: Do you have children or elderly people in your household?
A: We have children — Puppies and young dogs can be too enthusiastic and rambunctious for young children. Cats or middle-aged, well trained dogs are typically more appropriate for children. Child friendly dog breeds include collies, French bulldogs, cocker spaniels, and beagles. Smaller mammals or birds may also be a good choice if you want your child to take responsibility for the pet’s care. Dogs and cats require more maintenance than gerbils or birds.
We have an elderly person in our home — A young dog’s enthusiasm can be dangerous for an older person who is not stable on their feet. A well trained, older dog is more appropriate. Cats are also wonderful companions for elderly individuals.
Q: Do you have other pets in your household?
A: Yes — You will need to ensure that your current pet is amenable to a new pet. The new pet will also need to be comfortable meeting your current pet. Most cats and dogs can adjust to another cat or dog, but you will need to be careful about introducing the pets, to avoid aggressive behavior. If you have an older pet, adopting a young, active pet may not be good for your aging friend. The new pet may cause them stress, and you likely will pay more attention to the younger pet, resulting in jealousy.
No — Some pets do well as solitary pets, but others are more sociable and appreciate a buddy. Cats, birds, small mammals, and reptiles tend to do well when alone. Dogs can also do well, but will require more human attention if they do not have a buddy to keep them entertained.
Q: How much money are you willing to spend on your pet?
A: Money is not a problem — Caring for certain species and breeds can be expensive. In general, dogs and cats tend to be the most expensive pets. However, large birds will need expensive cages, a snake aquarium can be pricey, and rabbits will require daily essentials, such as hay, pellets, and fresh vegetables.
A: Money is a concern — Ferrets and other small mammals, such as hamsters and rats, are relatively inexpensive pets. Small reptiles, such as turtles, are not expensive to keep, and they typically live for decades.
A: My budget is extremely tight — Fish and small birds tend to be the cheapest pets to own, but they still require the necessities.
Hopefully, these considerations have helped you narrow your choice for a perfect family pet. Once you bring home your new pet, contact our team at Somerset Animal Hospital and schedule an appointment for a wellness check. Let us meet your new addition, and start them off right.