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Advice for First Time Pet Owners on Choosing a Pet

Deciding to get a pet is an exciting decision, but it’s one that comes with a lot of responsibility. Pet owners are responsible for the health and welfare of their companions, and that responsibility lasts the entire lifetime of the pet. To get the most out of the pet-owning experience, carefully consider what type of pet will work best for your family, home, and lifestyle. This will prevent any unpleasant surprises or unfulfilled expectations, which can lead people to give up their pets.

Attributes of Pets and Your Living Arrangements

When deciding which type of pet you want, determine what you want in a pet. If you want an animal to cuddle with, a guinea pig or cat may be a better option than a fish or a reptile. Even some breeds of cats and dogs are more independent, so they may not cuddle. Perhaps want a pet to exercise with you, or maybe you want a pet that’s low maintenance. All of these factors will help you determine which type of animal to choose.

If you’re buying a pet for your children, consider their caretaking abilities and that you will have to lend a hand. A child cannot be solely responsible for caring for a pet. Even if you’re the one caring for the pet, consider how much time you have to tend to an animal. Dogs need to be walked at least twice a day, and some animals have cages that require frequent cleaning.

The type of housing you live in can limit what kind of pet you can have. City dwellers have different limitations than people who reside in the suburbs or those in the country. Apartments often place limits on the type of pet and number of pets allowed. Condominiums, townhouse, and homeowner associations may have restrictions as well. Even towns, cities, counties, and states have ordinances. For example, it’s illegal to own a hamster or a gerbil in California and Hawaii.

Time and Money Requirements

While some pets don’t need much attention, other pets are meant to be true companions and require a lot of attention. Also, some pets live for a few years, while some larger birds can live for more than 100 years. Before choosing a pet, research its social habits and life expectancy in order to have a realistic understanding of your commitment. You should also determine the amount of exercise your pet needs and whether you and your living arrangements can meet those requirements.

Another important factor to consider is the cost of pet ownership. Some species of pets are fairly inexpensive, while others have special needs that can make keeping them more costly. The cost can even vary by the breed of the animal. Pets require food, housing, socialization, exercise, grooming, and veterinary care. Most of those requirements come at a price.

Other Considerations

Working long hours or travelling frequently may make keeping some animals more difficult. If you are consistently away from home, consider a pet that requires little care. Although you can place your dog or cat in a pet sitter’s care, consider whether that’s an ideal situation for your pet if it’s a regular occurrence. Also, pet sitters and kennels are another cost consideration.

In the event that your pet outlives you, do you have a reliable person who can take over caring for your pet? Do you have any future changes that could affect your commitment to your pet? For example, marriage, children, and moving are all life transitions that could potentially change the dynamic between you and your pet. You must be willing to keep your commitment to your pet throughout his or her entire life. If the lifetime commitment is too much, consider becoming a foster parent for animals as an alternative to pet ownership.

Getting a pet is a life changing experience. By preparing yourself for all aspects of pet ownership, you’re ensuring that the experience is a positive one. Having a pet is a big responsibility, but it’s one that pays off immensely. A pet can provide social, physical, and emotional benefits.

By Jessica Brody

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