So you're ready to take on the responsibilities of pet ownership, but you're not sure what kind to get. When adding an animal to the family, there are numerous factors to consider. Our Springfield veterinarians discuss the various types of pets and the benefits and drawbacks that come with each.
Choosing a New Pet
Spending time with animals is one of life's greatest pleasures. Our pets quickly become vitally important family members whom we adore and cherish. Different animals present different challenges and care needs, but they all have one thing in common: they rely on you to survive. So getting a pet must be a well-thought-out decision to ensure you have all the resources necessary to properly care for your new companion.
A Few Things to Consider
The first thing to consider when choosing a pet is whether the animal will fit into your family's lifestyle. For example, if you are frequently away from home for the majority of the day, a dog may not be the best choice because they require a lot of attention, walks, and bathroom breaks. Instead, you could get a cat that is more than capable of spending 8-10 hours a day alone. Other questions to consider include:
- Is it financially feasible for me to care for the pet I've chosen? All pets require a financial investment, but some are more expensive than others. A dog's vet bills, for example, are likely to be higher than the cost of a small goldfish tank and fish food.
- What personality traits are compatible with those of my family members? If you have an outgoing and extroverted family, a dog makes an excellent pet because they are also quite outgoing. If your family is made up of introverts, you might prefer the quieter company of a cat or rabbit.
- Do any of your family members have allergies? If being around pet fur makes you sneeze, a reptile might make a more suitable pet.
- Is your family capable of meeting the care requirements? Each type of pet has unique requirements and methods for providing care. Dogs require a significant time commitment, but cats must have their litter boxes changed regularly, hamsters and guinea pigs must have their cages cleaned regularly, and reptiles may require a diet that makes some people squeamish (like bugs and mice). Make sure you're prepared to meet the needs of whatever pet you choose.
Choosing a pet isn't always as easy as checking a few mental boxes. Perhaps you believe that a dog would be the ideal pet for your family, but it turns out that a rabbit or a bird would be better. Keep an open mind and do your research, and you'll find the ideal pet for you and your family.
Thinking About a Dog?
Choosing a dog begins with deciding on a breed that will fit into your home and lifestyle. Conduct some research on the breed's overall temperament (but remember that all animals have their personalities as well). Some dogs are content to sit at your feet all day, while others can be boisterous and bold. Size should also be considered. A smaller dog is probably a better choice if you live in a small apartment. Large dogs require a lot of space to run around 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.
Considering a Cat?
Cats make excellent pets. They are frequently playful and affectionate but keep in mind that, like dogs, they each have their distinct personality. Once fully grown, cats are relatively low-maintenance pets. Cats, on the other hand, are known to scratch (and sometimes ruin) furniture, so keep their nails trimmed and provide scratching posts to help with this problem.
Care requirements to consider: Changing the litter box, providing proper food and stimulation (toys, scratching posts), nail care, and veterinarian care.
Perhaps a Bird Would Be Best?
If you want a pet bird, choose wisely; some are better suited to human companionship than others. Budgies are popular because they are affectionate and enjoy being handled, whereas cockatiels can be trained to talk and even perform tricks. Keep your bird's cage clean and food and water bowls refilled daily. The cage should be large enough for your adult birds to flap their wings without touching the cage's sides.
Care requirements to consider: Cleaning the cage, noise, commitment to ownership (some birds can live to be 100 years old), and veterinarian care.
Wondering About Fish as Pets?
While fish are not cuddly pets, they can be quite lovely to watch as they swim in their tank. They also require less care than other types of pets. Care requirements vary depending on the species of fish, but the most important factor to consider when purchasing a fish is that you must keep its tank clean. Some fish are predatory toward others, so if you're thinking about getting multiple fish, do your research and talk to the pet store about which types of fish get along well.
Care requirements to consider: Proper nutrition, tank cleaning.
Thinking About Getting a Rabbit?
Rabbits are affectionate and intelligent creatures. They are also social creatures who thrive with a companion rabbit rather than being alone (just make sure to get two females or two females to avoid having more pet rabbits than you'd like). Rabbit care entails providing a litter box, a food bowl, a water bottle, and clean bedding. Non-toxic materials, such as recycled newspaper or aspen wood, should be used to make bedding.
Care requirements to consider: Cleaning their cage regularly (including changing their bedding), companionship, proper nutrition, and supervision at all times when they are outside of their cage.
Maybe a Hamster or Guinea Pig Would Be Best?
Hamsters and guinea pigs are small animals that are great for older children because they are happy to be handled if they have been socialized from a young age and enjoy being gently cuddled. Both animals require cages and bedding, as well as access to food and clean water. To stimulate their minds, they, like most pets, require toys and accessories such as wheels, chew toys, and tunnels. Guinea pigs require a larger, more spacious cage than hamsters, and their cages must be cleaned daily. Apart from the cleaning requirements, these are low-maintenance pet options.
Care requirements to consider: Regular cage cleaning (including clean bedding), and 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.