So it's time for you to adopt a pet, but which kind are you going to get? Here, our Stuart vets talk about all of the important factors you need to take into consideration when bringing home a new pet and share the challenges and benefits associated with each type of pet.
Adopting a New Pet
Animals are one of life's greatest joys. Pets often become another member of the family and we care and love for them greatly. Each animal has their own set of care requirements and challenges but, they all have the same thing in common: they depend on you for their survival. So you have to carefully think about your decision to make sure you have everything you need to properly take care of your new animal companion.
Factors to Take into Consideration
The first thing to consider when choosing a pet is if they meet the requirements of your lifestyle. For example, if you are not home for most of the day, a dog might not be a the best option because they need lots of walks, bathroom breaks, and attention. Instead, you could choose a cat because they are more capable of being alone for 8-10 hours a day. A few other questions you should ask yourself are:
- Am I financially able to care for the animal I'm adopting? 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 small goldfish tank 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.
- Do I have allergies? If being around pet fur makes you sneeze, a reptile might make a more suitable pet.
- Can I handle the care requirements? Each type of pet has different needs and ways to accomplish their care. 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.
Adopting a pet is not as easy as checking off a couple of mental boxes. You might think a dog will be the perfect pet for you, but in actuality, a rabbit or a bird is your animal soulmate. Remember to have an open mind and do your research and you'll come home with the perfect pet for you and your family.
If You're Thinking About a Dog
Adopting a dog begins with choosing a breed that fits your home and lifestyle. Research the breed's general temperament (keeping in mind 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. You should also factor in the size of the dog. If you live in a small apartment a smaller dog is probably a better choice. Large dogs need more space to run and exercise.
Care requirements to consider: Registering with a license, training, taking them out on walks, and providing the proper food, grooming, and veterinarian care.
If You're Thinking About a Cat
Cats can be excellent pets. They are often playful and affectionate - but just like dogs, they all have their own unique personality. Once they are fully grown cats are typically low-maintenance. Cats, however, are known for scratching (and can sometimes ruin) furniture, so you will need to keep their nails trimmed and have scratching posts to help manage this problem.
Care requirements to consider: Changing the litter box, providing proper food and stimulation (toys, scratching posts), nail care, and veterinarian care.
If You're Thinking About a Bird
If you're keen on having a pet bird, choose carefully-some are more suited to human companions than others. 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.
Care requirements to consider: Cleaning the cage, noise, commitment to ownership (some birds can live to be 100 years old), and veterinarian care.
If You're Thinking About a Fish
While fish aren't pets you can cuddle, they can be quite beautiful to watch as they swim around their tank. They also don't need as much care as some other pets. Care requirements can vary depending on the type of fish you have. But, the main element to take into consideration when getting a fish is that you'll need to make sure their tank is clean. Some fish are predatory towards others so if you're thinking about getting different types of fish remember to do your research and talk to the pet store to get more information on which types of fish will get along well.
Care requirements to consider: Tank cleaning, proper nutrition.
If You're Thinking About a Rabbit
Rabbits can be quite affectionate and intelligent. They are also social creatures and thrive when they have a companion rabbit rather than being on their own (just be sure to get two females or two males to prevent a situation where you have more pet rabbits than you want). 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.
Care requirements to consider: Cleaning their cage regularly (including changing their bedding), companionship, proper nutrition, supervision at all times when they are outside of their cage.
If You're Thinking About a Hamster or Guinea Pig
Hamsters and guinea pigs are small animals that could make excellent pets for older children, they are happy to be handled if they have been socialized from a young age and enjoy being gently snuggled. Both animals require cages and bedding that have proper access to food and clean water. Like most pets, they also require toys and accessories such as wheels, chew toys, and tunnels to stimulate their minds. Guinea pigs require a larger, roomier cage than hamsters, and you should clean their cages every day. Other than the cleaning requirements, however, these are fairly low-maintenance pet options.
Care requirements to consider: 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.